Stampede kills 145 Hindu worshippers in north India
Sunday 03 August 2008
At least 145 people, mostly women and children, were crushed to death under the feet of thousands of pilgrims in a stampede at a temple in northern India on Sunday, police said.
Hindu worshippers, chanting and singing hymns, were snaking up a 4-km (2.5-mile) trail leading to a hill-top temple in Himachal Pradesh state when the stampede occurred.
Police said the pilgrims might have panicked after heavy rains caused some loose stones from a retaining wall along the hilly trail to fall.
The pilgrims started fleeing down the slope, breaking an iron side railing and trampling falling women and children under their feet, said Daljit Singh Manhas, a senior police officer.
"We have confirmation now that 145 people have been killed," he told Reuters. "We found eight to 10 stones which had fallen off and probably scared the people, causing the stampede."
At least 40 children and 45 women were among the dead, police and health department officials said.
Thousands of worshippers had gathered at the temple in Bilaspur district to pray to a Hindu goddess during the annual festival.
Authorities said at last 48 people were injured, but this figure could rise as dozens of people were admitted to private clinics as well.
Witnesses said people jumped over broken railings and bodies to save themselves. Children lost their grip on their mothers' hands and were crushed under the feet of scared pilgrims.
"Many children and women were shouting for help and I saw people tumbling down the hillside," pilgrim Dev Swarup, 48, told Reuters by telephone from Bilaspur.
"There were rumours of boulders coming down on us and we all ran like the others," said Swarup, his voice choked with emotion.
Slippers, torn clothes and bags with flowers and offerings lay along the narrow path winding up the hill, television pictures showed.
People crowded into hospitals looking for injured relatives.
A television channel showed a young woman pilgrim pleading for water in a corner as rescuers brought in more injured people on stretchers for treatment.
More than 10,000 people were trying to get into the temple when the stampede began and police had been struggling desperately to keep the situation under control.
"There were too many rumours, we tried our best to keep things under control but it went out of hand," one officer said.
Most of the worshippers were from the neighbouring state of Punjab, and their numbers rose sharply at the weekend.
Stampedes at temples are not uncommon in India where thousands of people gather to pray during festivals. In 2005, about 265 pilgrims were killed in a stampede near a temple in the western state of Maharashtra.
Manchester United's best XI of the season so far: No place for Angel Di Maria or Juan Mata
Which player sells the most shirts in the Premier League?
WrestleMania 31 results: Seth Rollins stuns WWE as he cashes in Money in the Bank contract to claim title from Brock Lesnar
Chelsea's best XI of the season so far: Petr Cech has been better than Thibaut Courtois
Chelsea's Eden Hazard, Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and Manchester City's Jesus Navas are the three best attacking midfielders in Europe in 2015
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival streaming service criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
- 4 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
- 5 A new (old) cure for MRSA? Revolting recipe from the Dark Ages may be key to defeat infection
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans