116 dead in stampede at Hindu religious event in India

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Two India women weeping during the stampede. Photo: Reuters

About 116 people have been killed in a stampede during a religious event in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district, India.

The tragedy occurred on Tuesday. those killed were mostly women and children, the India Express reports.

According to officials, the satsang was being addressed by a religious preacher and his wife when the stampede took place at the Ratibhanpur village under the Sikandra Rau tehsil of the Hathras district.

The preacher has been holding such events under the banner of Sakaar Vishwa Hari Bhole Baba for over two decades, they added.

Survivors have described how the disaster unfolded as they tried to leave the event in Mughalgarhi village.

A spokesperson for a senior police officer in Uttar Pradesh told the BBC it would “take hours to release the final tally”, but confirmed at least 100 dead.

An eyewitness, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC everything was “going fine”, until “all of a sudden I heard screams and before I knew it, people were falling on each other”.

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“Many were crushed and I couldn’t do much. I am just lucky to have survived.”

“When the sermon finished, everyone started running out,” a woman named only as Shakuntala 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.”

Inspector General of Police, Aligarh range, Shalabh Mathur, said an FIR is being registered against the organisers of the event.

“A temporary permission was granted for the gathering at the spot situated on the border of Etah and Hathras districts,” Mathur said earlier.
Umesh Kumar Tripathi, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Etah, was quoted by Indian Express as saying that “So far, we have 27 bodies at the Etah Medical College mortuary. Among those dead are 25 women and two men. Several injured persons have been admitted to the medical college. As per a rough estimate, at least 150 injured are admitted at medical college here”.

Rajesh Kumar, Senior Superintendent of Police, Etah, said, “The strength of the medical college to accommodate patients has been exhausted and we have asked private hospitals to spare beds for stampede victims. The relief and rescue measures are underway on a war footing.”

“There was a presence of at least 15,000 people at the satsang in Sikandara Rau today. We do not know the exact cause of the stampede but a majority of deaths were a result of suffocation,” said a police officer.

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