In one of the worst tragedies of its kind in India, 179 people were killed, mostly men, and several injured in a stampede that took place when thousands of devotees gathered at a 15th century temple in Jodhpur on the occasion of Navaratri festival on Tuesday,according to NDTV.
People carry a man, who was a casualty of a stampede at a temple, as they transfer him from the Mehrangarh fort to a hospital, in the western Indian city of Jodhpur September 30, 2008. [Agencies]
It is feared that the toll may cross 200.
The worshippers had gathered at the Chamunda Devi Temple situated on a hill top in the precincts of Mehrangarh Fort when the tragedy struck at around 5.30 am after some devotees slipped on a slope causing the stampede.
The injured are being treated in various hospitals, Rajasthan's Principal Secretary S N Thanvi said. "As some devotees slipped on the slope on the temple path, others gathered there started falling on each other causing the stampede. A majority of those killed died due to suffocation as a result of the stampede," he said in Jaipur.
According to reports, there is shortage of oxygen in hospitals.
Director General of Police, Rajasthan, K S Bains, however, said that nearly 100 people were injured in the incident.
Officials said most of the dead were men as the stampede took place in the separate queue for males for going to the temple.
About 15 to 20 people were killed at the spot and the others succumbed to their injuries in Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, Mathura Das Hospital and Sun City Hospital, among others, in Jodhpur.
The dead include a large number of young people, they said.
The devotees in large numbers, including women, had gathered at the temple from early this morning on the occasion of Navaratri festival.
Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said sufficient police deployment had been ensured and there were separate queues for men and women.
But there was a huge rush in the queue for men and some people slipped on a slope which led to the stampede, Kataria said.
The civil authorities have sought the help of the Army to deal with the situation, Inspector General of Police Kanhaiya Lal said.
Officials said that the stampede occurred as the devotees along the 2-km-long route to the temple tried to rush towards its door as soon as it opened.
The situation went out of control as devotees, carrying offerings, jostled with each other and tried to rush towards the temple door breaking the barricades, they said.
Inspector General of Police in Jodhpur Rajiv Dasod said some of the devotees slipped on the 75-metre-long slope on the temple path causing the stampede in the 100-metre zone around it.
"There has been no casualty in the queue for women in which a large number of children were also present," he added.
A few eyewitness to the incident told police that a side wall of the temple had also collapsed due to pressure from the large number of devotees.
(Xinhua News Agency October 1, 2008)