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Stampede at Religious Event in India Kills at Least 116, Mostly Women and Children

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Stampede at Religious Event in India Kills at Least 116, Mostly Women and Children

Thousands of people a rushed to leave a makeshift tent following an event with Hindu figure Bhole Baba. The resulting stampede left over 100 dead and 80 more injured.

Stampede at Religious Event in India Kills at Least 116, Mostly Women and Children

A person injured in a stampede at a religious gathering arrives in an ambulance at the Sikandrarao hospital in Hathras district, India, July 2, 2024.

Credit: AP Photo/Manoj Aligadi

Thousands of people at a religious gathering in India rushed to leave a makeshift tent, setting off a stampede Tuesday that killed more than 100 and left scores injured, officials said.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the panic following an event with Hindu figure Bhole Baba. Local news reports cited authorities who said heat and suffocation in the tent could have been a factor. Video of the aftermath showed the structure appeared to have collapsed.

At least 116 people died, most of them women and children, said Prashant Kumar, the director-general of police in northern India’s state of Uttar Pradesh, where the stampede occurred.

More than 80 others were injured and admitted to hospitals, senior police officer Shalabh Mathur said.

“People started falling one upon another, one upon another. Those who were crushed died. People there pulled them out,” witness Shakuntala Devi told the Press Trust of India news agency.

Relatives wailed in distress as bodies of the dead, placed on stretchers and covered in white sheets, lined the grounds of a local hospital. A bus that arrived there carried more victims, whose bodies were lying on the seats inside.

Deadly stampedes are relatively common around Indian religious festivals, where large crowds gather in small areas with shoddy infrastructure and few safety measures.

Police officer Rajesh Singh said there was likely overcrowding at the event in a village in Hathras district about 350 kilometers (220 miles) southwest of the state capital, Lucknow.

Initial reports suggested that over 15,000 people had gathered for the event, which had permission to host about 5,000.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences to the families of the dead and said the federal government was working with state authorities to ensure the injured received help.

Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, called the stampede “heart-wrenching” in a post on X. He said authorities were investigating.

In 2013, pilgrims visiting a temple for a popular Hindu festival in central Madhya Pradesh state trampled each other amid fears that a bridge would collapse. At least 115 were crushed to death or died in the river.

In 2011, more than 100 Hindu devotees died in a crush at a religious festival in the southern state of Kerala.