Stampede at Hindu festival leaves 18 dead
At least 18 people – 10 children and eight women – died and dozens of others were injured in a stampede during a Hindu festival in India’s eastern Bihar state late last night.
Police, who expect the death toll to increase, said the stampede was triggered by the collapse in the state capital Patna of a rudimentary bamboo-and-rope bridge erected to help devotees reach the Ganges river.
“When the bridge at Adalat Ganj collapsed, the power cables strung along it snapped too and the lights went off. In the ensuing darkness people panicked, leading to the stampede,” chief city magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh said.
About 50,000 people were present, officials said. They were part of 500,000 Hindu devotees gathered at 65 riverside locations specially prepared in Patna for the Chhath festival dedicated to the Hindu sun god.
During this festival, worshippers travel to the Ganges which is considered holy by Hindus to offer prayers.
Television channels showed scenes of chaos as ambulances took injured worshippers to various city hospitals.
Darkness made rescue efforts even more difficult. Stampedes often break out at religious events in India where arrangements and crowd control are inadequate.
In September, nine people died in Jharkhand state during a stampede at a religious celebration. And on November 16th, people were crushed to death and dozens injured at a religious festival in northern India. The worst incident took place in October 2008 when 220 Hindu devotees were crushed to death near a temple in Jodhpur in the western Rajasthan desert.