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Temple stampede kills 123 in India

New Delhi, August 3, 2008

At least 123 people, mostly women and children, were crushed to death in a stampede at a temple in northern India on Sunday, police said.

Iron railings around the Hindu temple in the state of Himachal Pradesh broke, causing panic, with people trampling over falling women and children, they said.

"As of now we have 123 people dead, including more than 40 children," Daljit Singh Manhas, a senior police officer told Reuters.

"The injured have been taken to two places and the toll could be more as we are awaiting news from other hospitals," Manhas added. He said at least 45 women were among the dead.

Children were among the first to fall to the ground and were trampled by pilgrims running to safety, even as their parents tried to save them, police officers said.

Thousands of worshippers had gathered at the temple in Bilaspur district to pray to a Hindu goddess during an annual festival.

More than 3,000 people were trying to get into the temple at the same time when part of the iron railing broke,  officials said.

Most of the worshippers were from the neighbouring state of Punjab, they said.  Television pictures showed people being carried on stretchers to a hospital, many writhing in pain.

"There were a lot of people inside and we were trying to fight for space when everyone started falling over," one female worshipper, Bimala, told television reporters.

Stampedes at temples are not uncommon in India where thousands of people gather to pray during festivals. In 2005, about 265 pilgrims were killed in a stampede near a temple in the western state of Maharashtra. - Reuters




Tags: India | stampede |

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