Not less than 10 people have been confirmed dead and dozens injured in a stampede at a temple, during a Hindu religious festival in eastern India.
The incident happened in the early hours of Monday after thousands of people tried to force their way into the temple when its gates opened in Deoghar, a town in Jharkhand state, police officer Subodh Kumar said.
State Home Commissioner, N.N. Pande reported that ten pilgrims died and about 48 were injured. Four of the injured who were said to be in very serious condition, were being treated at a hospital.
He said tens of thousands of people were participating in a month long festival at the temple of Shiva, the destroyer, one of the main deities of Hinduism.
Senior police official SN Pradhan who also confirmed the incident said Pilgrims sleeping in the 6km (four miles) long queue were trampled as others pushed towards the doors,
“Many tried to rush to the head of the queue which led to chaos and as some of them fell, the devotees got trampled.”
“Ten people including one female devotee are now confirmed dead. Another 15 to 20 people have received injuries,” he said
“Suddenly there was a push and we all fell down,” said Nidhi Kumari, a pilgrim who was waiting to enter the temple. She managed to escape the crush.
Dilip Kumar, another devotee, said he saved himself by running away from the crowds at the temple, 255 kilometers (160 miles) south of Patna, the capital of Bihar state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “pained at the loss of lives due to the stampede in Jharkhand” and said his thoughts were “with the families of the deceased in this hour of grief.”
Deadly stampedes are fairly common during Indian religious festivals, where large crowds gather in small areas with few safety or absence of crowd control measures.
In July, 27 people died when tens of thousands of pilgrims taking part in a Hindu religious bathing festival triggered a massive stampede on a riverbank in southern India’s Andhra Pradesh state.
In October 2013, a stampede in Madhya Pradesh state in central India killed more than 110 people, mostly women and children.