145 pilgrims killed in Indian stampede

 

At least 145 pilgrims, mostly women and children, have been killed today in a stampede at a mountaintop Hindu temple in northern India, according to police.

Senior police officer C.P. Verma said 145 people were killed in the crush at the Naina Devi Temple in northern India’s Himachal Pradesh state.

He said many others were injured and police were transporting them to hospitals.

The stampede occurred when iron railings leading to the Hindu temple collapsed, a senior police official said.

Thousands of worshippers gather at the temple in the district every year to pray to a Hindu goddess during an annual festival.

More than 3,000 people were trying to enter the temple premises at the same time today when part of the railing broke, leading to panic, officials said.

Most of the worshippers were from the neighbouring state of Punjab, they said.

Children were among those who fell to the ground and were trampled by pilgrims running to safety, officials said.

Television pictures showed people being carried on stretchers to a hospital, many writhing in pain.

"There were a lot of people inside and we were trying to fight for space when everyone started falling over," one female worshipper, Bimala, told television reporters.

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

Agencies