At Least 27 Killed In India Religious Gathering Stampede

At least 27 people were crushed to death at a Hindu religious gathering in northern India, with many more injured and fears the toll could rise, government medics said Tuesday.

Deadly incidents are common at places of worship during major religious festivals in India, the biggest of which prompt millions of devotees to make pilgrimages to holy sites.

A large crowd gathered near the city of Hathras, around 140 kilometres (90 miles) southeast of New Delhi, on Tuesday for a sermon by a religious preacher.

“We have received 27 bodies so far,” Uttar Pradesh state senior medical officer Ram Mohan Tiwari told AFP.

“It’s very hard to say the exact figure, as bodies are still coming. We do not have the number of injured.”

Witnesses and local media reports said the victims were crushed to death as the audience left the sermon.

“When the sermon finished, everyone started running out,” Shakuntala, a woman who gave only one name, told the Press Trust of India news agency.

“People fell in a drain by the road. They started falling one on top of the other and got crushed to death.”

Local chief medical officer Umesh Kumar Tripathi told reporters that most of the dead were women.

“Many injured have also been admitted,” he said.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath “expressed condolences” to relatives of those killed, his office said on social media platform X.

“He has directed the district administration officials to immediately take the injured to the hospital for their proper treatment and to speed up the relief work at the spot,” it said.

Adityanath’s office also said an investigation had been ordered into the cause of the incident.

Religious gatherings in India have a grim track record of deadly incidents caused by poor crowd management and safety lapses.

At least 112 people were killed in 2016 after a huge explosion caused by a banned fireworks display at a temple marking the Hindu new year.

The blast ripped through concrete buildings and ignited a fire at a temple complex in Kerala state, where thousands had gathered.

Another 115 devotees were killed in 2013 in a stampede at a bridge near a temple in Madhya Pradesh.

Up to 400,000 people were gathered in the area and the stampede began after a rumour spread that the bridge was about to collapse.

About 224 pilgrims died and more than 400 others were injured in a 2008 stampede at a hilltop temple in the northern city of Jodhpur.

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