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India: Hoax blamed as 109 die in stampede on crowded bridge

October 13, 2013|By Mark Magnier | This post has been updated. See note below for details.
  • Victims' belongings lie on the ground after a stampede on a bridge over the river Sindh in India. At least 89 people died.
Victims' belongings lie on the ground after a stampede on a bridge… (Sanjeev Gupta / European…)

NEW DELHI -- At least 89 people died Sunday in a stampede near a Hindu temple in central India when people panicked on a crowded bridge.

In addition to the confirmed death toll, many of the 100 injured were in critical condition, so the death toll was likely to rise, according to Dilip Kumar Arya, Chambal Range deputy inspector general of police.

[Updated at 9:33 p.m. Oct. 13: The death toll rose to at least 109.]

Hundreds of thousands of people had gathered at the Ratangarh temple in central Madhya Pradesh state Sunday morning for the last day of a nine-day religious festival when a crowd bolted on a packed bridge, authorities said. Most reportedly were crushed, although some drowned after jumping into the Sindh river below.

“It was rumor that led to the stampede,” said Arya, adding that about 25,000 people were on the bridge at the time. “Some boys from Uttar Pradesh who were in a hurry shouted 'The bridge has collapsed, run for your life' and started running, and that caused the stampede.” Northern Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state.

Stampedes, fueled by poor management and huge crowds, often at Hindu festivals, are fairly common in India. Local media reported the narrow bridge, reportedly around 500-yards long, had recently been rebuilt after a stampede in 2007.

In the last 12 months, dozens have died in three similar stampedes across India after the death of more than 100 in 2011 at a festival in southern Kerala state.


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