ToneToneJune 26, 201014min1040

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India stampede death toll passes 200 – South and Central Asia-

Death toll in India temple stampede passes 200

Dozens more injured as 12,000 celebrated key Hindu festival in Jodhpur

JODHPUR, India — A Hindu temple official blamed an unruly group of pilgrims trying to get ahead in a line of worshippers for a stampede that killed more than 200 people and injured nearly 60 in western India.

Authorities were still working to determine the final death toll, but the number had already crossed 200, said senior police official Rajeev Dosat.

The disaster occurred just as the doors of the temple were being opened for worship at dawn for more than 12,000 people celebrating a key Hindu festival in the historic city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan state.

A group of 200 pilgrims jostled with the crowd and tried to move ahead of others, causing some people to slip down the narrow 1.35-mile path leading to the temple, said Mahendra Singh Nagar, who heads a private trust that oversees the temple’s operations.

False rumors of a bomb that spread during the stampede only added to the chaos, worshippers said.

Tensions are high because India has been hit by a spate of recent bomb attacks. The latest explosions killed six people and wounded 45 others Monday night in the western cities of Malegaon and Modasa.

Temple floors were also slick with coconut milk as thousands of devotees broke coconuts as religious offerings, causing pilgrims to slip and fall as they scrambled to escape, Nagar said.

Television footage showed dozens of bodies on a sidewalk. Nearby, frantic people tried to revive unconscious devotees through resuscitation efforts or by slapping their faces.

Jodhpur is some 180 miles southwest of Rajasthan’s capital, Jaipur.

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More Than 60 Killed in Stampede at Indian Temple | News | English

At least 63 people have been killed and scores of others injured in a stampede at a temple in a small town in the north of the country.  More than half the victims were children and the rest were women.

The accident occurred at the Ram Janki temple in Pratapgarh district in Uttar Pradesh state, where a large crowd had gathered on Thursday for a ritual feast and distribution of free utensils and clothes.

The gifts were being handed out to mark the anniversary of the death of the wife of a Hindu holy man who runs a charitable trust.

The town where the tragedy occurred is about 180 kilometers southeast of the state capital, Lucknow.

Police say the stampede took place when a large gate collapsed and fell on some devotees.  A senior police officer in Pratapgarh district, Brij Lal, says this caused the crowd to panic.

“Around 5,000-6,000 people had gathered. Mostly they were locals,” said Lal.  “In the meantime, the main gate cracked and people died due to injuries.”

It is not clear what caused the gate to collapse.  Some reports say it was under construction.

As people tried to escape, many tripped and fell.  The victims were mostly poor villagers who had gone to get the free gifts.

Rescue operations continued for several hours, with local people joining the police to extricate those trapped. The injured were taken to hospitals in nearby towns.

Witnesses say there were not enough volunteers or arrangements to control the large crowd.

Stampedes have claimed many lives at religious ceremonies held at temples in small towns, where the local administration is not equipped to handle large crowds. In 2008, nearly 300 people died in two separate stampedes at temples in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan states.

YouTube – Indian temple stampede

A stampede for free food and clothes at a temple in northern India has killed more than 60 people.