July 14, 2024

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Hathras stampede: Deadly event kills at least 121 people, mostly women and children

Hathras stampede: Deadly event kills at least 121 people, mostly women and children

HATHRAS, India (AP) — Overcrowding and a lack of exits have contributed to… Stampede at religious festival An attack by gunmen on a mosque in northern India killed at least 121 people when worshippers rushed the preacher to touch him, sparking chaos, authorities said on Wednesday.

Five of them died. Local official Manish Chaudhary said that as of Wednesday morning, 28 people had been killed and were still receiving treatment in hospital.

Deadly stampede incidents relatively common In Indian religious festivals, where large crowds gather in small areas with poor infrastructure and few safety measures.

About a quarter of a million people Attended the event On Tuesday, only 80,000 people were allowed in. It was not clear how many were able to enter the giant tent set up in a muddy field in a village in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh state.

It was not immediately clear what caused the panic. But state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told reporters that a crowd rushed to touch the preacher as he was coming down from the platform, and volunteers had difficulty intervening.

Initial police reports indicated that thousands of people flocked to emergency exits, many of whom slipped on the muddy ground and were crushed in the crowd. Most of the dead were women.

The chaos continued outside the tent as followers again ran toward the preacher, a Hindu guru known locally as Bhol Baba, as he left in a car. His security personnel pushed the crowd back, causing more people to fall, officials said.

The authorities are investigating and searching for the preacher and the other organizers, whose whereabouts are unknown.

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Adityanath said he had ordered an inquiry by a retired judge into the deaths that occurred on Tuesday.

Police have registered a case of culpable homicide against two of the organisers, but have ruled out the preacher. The maximum penalty for culpable homicide in India is life imprisonment.

Binod Sukhna, who lost his mother, daughter and wife, cried as he was brought out of the morgue on Wednesday.

“My son called me and said, ‘Dad, my mom is no longer here. Come here right away. My wife is no longer here,'” he said, crying.

The organization of preacher Sri Jagat Guru Baba had spent more than two weeks preparing for this event.

Followers of the guru traveled from across the state – India’s most populous with a population of more than 200 million – to the village, in lines of parked vehicles stretching for 3 kilometers (about 2 miles).

Government official Ashish Kumar said the number of exits in the vast tent was inadequate. It was not clear how many exits there were.

Experts said the event violated safety standards. “The event was held in a makeshift tent without ensuring multiple exit routes,” said Sanjay Srivastava, a disaster management expert.

On Tuesday, hundreds of relatives of the victims gathered at local hospitals, crying in agony as they saw the dead, laid out on stretchers and covered in white sheets, outside. Buses and trucks took dozens of victims to morgues.

Sonu Kumar was one of many locals who helped lift and transport bodies after the disaster. He criticized the preacher, saying: “He just got into his car and left. His followers are falling on top of each other here.”

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“The screams were very heartbreaking. We have never seen anything like this in our village,” Kumar added.

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

In 2011, more than 100 people were killed in a stampede during a religious festival in the southern state of Kerala.

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Banerjee reported from Lucknow, India. Associated Press writer Krutika Pathi contributed to this report from New Delhi.

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Associated Press religion coverage is supported through its partnership with The Conversation US, with funding from the Lilly Endowment Inc. The Associated Press is solely responsible for this content.