More than 2 dozen killed in stampede at India religious festival

MUMBAI, India – At least 29 people were killed Tuesday in a stampede on the banks of a river in southern India where huge crowds had gathered for the start of a once-in-a-century religious festival.

Officials and Indian media reports said the death toll could rise as scores of wounded were being treated at a hospital in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The deaths reportedly occurred when devotees thronged one set of steps, or ghats, leading to the Godavari River to take a dip in the water at the start of the 12-day festival of Pushkaram. Worshippers believe that bathing in the water during the festival will cleanse them of their sins.

Officials said that when river authorities opened the gates shortly after sunrise, pilgrims began pushing each other to reach the water first. Most of the victims reportedly were women and the elderly.

“Some women and children standing in front of the queues fell down while they were going down the steps,” a local police official, Hari Krishna, was quoted as saying in the Indian Express.

The bodies were immediately brought to the government hospital in the city of Rajahmundry, where the injured were being treated.

The state’s chief minister, Chandrababu Naidu, called the incident “very unfortunate and shocking,” and said local officials had not implemented effective crowd-control measures. He said families of the victims would each receive a death benefit of about $16,000.

Stampedes have become commonplace at crowded religious festivals in India. In 2013, at least 115 pilgrims, mainly women and children, died at a Hindu temple in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

Pushkaram, a festival dedicating to the worship of rivers, is celebrated at 12 waterways in India, with the location rotating each year based on signs of the zodiac.

Millions of devotees were expected to congregate in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana this year because it is an especially auspicious festival, “Maha Pushkaram,” which comes every 144 years.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Keith Wagoner
Senator becomes first GOP candidate for secretary of state

Sen. Keith Wagoner will challenge Democrat Steve Hobbs, who was appointed to the statewide post in November

Madison is one of three aging elementary schools that would be torn down and replaced if the Everett schools bond is passed next year. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Everett school leaders have 2 big levies on February ballot

The district is asking voters to renew a levy for programs and operations, and to pass a $325 million capital and tech levy.

Reagan Dunn to take on U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier in 8th District

The Republican is challenging incumbent Democrat Kim Schrier in a district which could include a slice of Snohomish County.

Charges: Arlington-area shooting suspect had gun stash, bomb lab

A bomb squad spent two days detonating explosive material. Detectives also discovered an underground bunker full of guns.

A fatal crash prompted closure of West Mukilteo Boulevard between Forest Park and Dogwood Drive Friday afternoon. (Everett Police Department) 20211126
2 identified in deadly T-bone crash in Everett

Otila Retel Azanedo de Jones, 67, and William Jones, 85, died at the scene.

Two brother bear cubs, burned in a fire last summer, were recently reunited at PAWS in Lynnwood. (PAWS) 20211129
Bear cubs, burned in wildfires, reunited in viral video in Lynnwood

The brother cubs are being treated at PAWS Wildlife Center. They were injured in a wildfire near Lake Chelan.

A car breaks and waits for traffic to pass before turning onto 123rd Avenue on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Can roundabouts, lower speed limit make 84th Street NE safer?

Maybe, but transportation and disability advocates want design features to make crossing safe.

Everett officials have questions about a 125-room hotel shelter

City Council members say they weren’t aware of the county’s proposal until it made headlines.

A banner outside the door of Goodies in Mountlake Terrace says, “$795,000 Hit 5 ticket sold here.” (Andrea Brown / The Herald) 20211201
Who has the $795,000 Hit 5 ticket sold in Mountlake Terrace?

The winner has until Dec. 8 to claim the prize from a lottery ticket sold June 11 at Goodies Food.

Most Read