At least 89 people, including women and children, were killed and over 100 injured in a stampede near a temple in central India where about half a million devotees had converged for a Hindu festival.
Rumors that a bridge they were crossing was about to collapse triggered panic, causing the worst tragedy in two years as many jumped into the river to their deaths. About 25,000 were crossing the bridge at the time of the incident and they were on their way to the Ratangarh temple in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh, D.K. Arya, a deputy inspector general of police in the state, said in a telephone interview.
Television images showed bodies and clothes strewn on the bridge as relatives tried to identify the victims. Ten of the injured were in a serious condition, Arya said, suggesting the death toll may climb.
Stampedes during mass gatherings aren’t uncommon in the country with a population of more than 1.2 billion. Government data show about 102 people were killed in January 2011 at a Hindu shrine in the southern state of Kerala. A crowd surge at a railway station in northern India killed at least 36 people in February as Hindu devotees drawn by one of the holiest days of the world’s largest religious gathering rushed to board trains. In 2010, 76 people died in four incidents.