India

India's Ratangarh temple stampede deaths rise to 115

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Media captionEyewitness Atul Chaudhary: "We saw people jumping into the river"

The death toll from a stampede at a Hindu festival in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has risen to 115, local officials have said.

Many were crushed after panic broke out on a bridge near the Ratangarh temple. Others drowned when they jumped from the bridge into river waters below.

Officials said the stampede may have been sparked by a rumour that the bridge had been about to collapse.

Hundreds of thousands had gathered for the festival of Navratra (nine nights).

Funeral pyres burned throughout the night, with many of the victims already cremated by Monday morning.

"The death toll has now gone up to 115 and more than 110 injured," news agency AFP quoted senior police official DK Arya in Datia district as saying on Monday.

"Ten of those [injured] are in a very critical state," he added.

Earlier, officials said they had recovered bodies of people who had been crushed to death from the river.

Meanwhile, relatives gathered outside hospitals to take away the bodies of the dead after post mortems had been carried out.

Many were still searching for loved ones among the dead and the injured.

The BBC's Zubair Ahmed in Datia said thousands of devotees were still thronging the temple on Monday.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hundreds of thousands had gathered for the Hindu festival of Navratra (nine nights) at the Ratangarh temple on Sunday when panic broke out on a bridge.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many were crushed in the stampede. Others died when they jumped from the bridge into river water below.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Officials said the stampede may have been sparked by a rumour that the bridge was about to collapse.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption More than 100 people were injured in the stampede.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption On Monday, a day after the disaster, it was business as usual as thousands of pilgrims marked the end of one of the holiest days in the Hindu calendar.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Most of them took a customary bath in the river before crossing the bridge to go into the temple to pray.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dozens of policemen were deployed on Monday to ensure the festival passed off without further incident.

Many took a bath in the Sindh river before going into the temple to offer prayers.

The accident happened at about 09:00 (03:30 GMT) on Sunday. The victims were mostly women and children, officials said.

The narrow bridge is about 500m long and had only recently been rebuilt following another stampede in 2006 in which more than 50 people had died.

Local official Sanket Bhondve said the immediate priority was to provide relief to the injured.

Stampedes occur relatively frequently at religious festivals in India, which attract large crowds.

In the past year, dozens have died in similar tragedies.

In 2011 more than 100 died at a festival in the southern state of Kerala.

Inside Jodhpur's Mehrangarh Fort, more than 220 people were killed in 2008 in a stampede at the Chamunda Devi Hindu temple.

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