Death toll rises to 116 in India’s stampede | Religious news

More than 12 people were injured in a crushing in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Hadras district.

More than 100 people have been killed and more than 12 injured in a stampede at a Hindu religious gathering in northern India, officials said.

A large crowd gathered Tuesday for a preacher’s sermon in a village in Uttar Pradesh state’s Hadhras district, 200 km (125 miles) southeast of the national capital New Delhi, and a severe dust storm sparked panic as people left.

Many were crushed or trampled and fell on top of each other. Some collapsed in the roadside ditch in confusion.

At least 116 people died, most of them women and children, Uttar Pradesh Police Director General Prashant Kumar said.

Senior police officer Shalap Mathur also confirmed 116 deaths and at least 18 injured, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.

The state’s chief medical officer, Umesh Kumar Tripathi, told reporters that “several injured” have been hospitalized.

Local media reported that there was a stampede as attendees rushed to leave the event, along with a religious leader named Bole Baba.

Unverified videos on social media showed bodies piled up on the ground outside a local hospital. Al Jazeera could not immediately verify the videos.

Police officer Rajesh Singh said overcrowding could also be a factor. Initial reports put more than 15,000 people at the event, which was limited to about 5,000.

India is crowded
People mourn near the bodies of victims of a stampede outside a hospital in Hadhras [Reuters]

People gathered outside a mortuary in the town of Eta, where many of the dead were taken, seeking news of their relatives.

One survivor, Jyoti, known only by her first name, told local media that the stampede happened quickly after the event.

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“Everyone was in a rush to get out. … There was no way, people were falling over each other,” he said.

“After the sermon, everyone started running out,” Sakundala, another woman who gave only her name, told the Press Trust of India news agency.

People were crying outside the hospital
People mourn the death of their relatives outside a hospital in Hadhras [Screengrab via Reuters]

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered an inquiry into the incident.

“Instructions have been issued to the authorities concerned to carry out relief and rescue operations on a wartime basis and to give due treatment to the injured,” he wrote in X.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a compensation of $2,400 to the kin of the deceased and $600 to the injured.

“My condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. … I wish all the injured a speedy recovery,” Modi wrote on social media platform X.

President Draupadi Murmu said the deaths were “heartbreaking” and expressed his “deepest condolences”.

In places of worship in India, casualties are common during major religious festivals, when large crowds congregate in small areas with minimal security arrangements.

In 2016, 112 people were killed in an explosion caused by the bursting of prohibited firecrackers in a temple on the eve of the Hindu New Year. The explosion ripped apart concrete buildings and set fire to the temple complex in Kerala state where thousands had gathered.

Another 115 devotees died in 2013 in a stampede on a bridge near a temple in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Up to 400,000 people gathered in the area. There was a stampede after rumors spread that the bridge was about to collapse.

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At least 224 pilgrims died and more than 400 were injured in a 2008 stampede at a hilltop temple in the northern city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan state.

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