Death toll from India temple stampede up to 115, search called off
(Reuters) - The toll of dead from a stampede at a Hindu temple in India rose to 115 on Monday, police said, as a search ended for more victims of the second deadly crush at the site in seven years.
Nearly 150,000 pilgrims had gathered at the Ratangarh temple in the central state of Madhya Pradesh on Sunday to celebrate the end of the Hindu holy festival of Navratri.
Devotees thronging towards the temple across a long, concrete bridge panicked when some railings broke, triggering the stampede, Dilip Arya, a deputy inspector general of police, told Reuters.
Many victims were crushed by the crowd while others drowned when they fell or jumped into the fast-flowing Sindh river, swollen by heavy rain.
"The death toll has increased to 115 and the rescue operation is over," Arya said.
Most of the dead were women and children. Many pilgrims were injured and in hospital, Arya said.
Rescuers had combed the river in the hunt for victims.
Reuters images taken soon after the accident showed bodies of women and children on the bridge with discarded travel bags and food and water containers strewn about.
Police were investigating the cause of the accident. Arya dismissed accounts from some survivors that police had sparked the panic by using sticks to try to control the crowd.
Stampedes at religious sites are common in India. In February, a crush at the world's largest religious festival killed 36 Hindu pilgrims.
The Ratangarh temple was built by Hindu warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji after defeating the Muslim Mughals, who ruled most of India for 600 years.
There was a stampede on the same 400-metre (440-yard) bridge in 2006 and 50 pilgrims were swept away to their deaths after they jumped into the river to escape the crush. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...99C02N20131014
Stampede survivors narrate horror tales
BHOPAL: Twenty-eight-old Manoj Sharma lay couched in a corner of the bridge over the swollen Sindh river, witnessing the dance of death. Holding on to the swaying railings of the bridge for over six hours, he lay breathless as piling bodies and trampling feet pushed him to the edge. And he saw scores of children being tossed into the waters below only to be swallowed by a river in spate.
"I was shell-shocked as I watched scores of women and children falling into the Sindh river," said Sharma, a survivor of the Ratangarh temple stampede. He cannot believe he is still alive. "There was panic. People were jumping off the bridge to save themselves, but they could not swim against the tide. I also saw children being tossed from the bridge, only to be washed away. I saw a mother desperately trying to protect her baby amidst the swelling, rushing crowds. But both died before my eyes. It was most horrific incident of my life," he said. Sharma, a resident of Bhander village said, "It was a huge administrative lapse on part of the state government. There were no policemen to control the crowds. Big vehicles carrying devotees were allowed to ply on the bridge and this caused the tragedy." "The toll is far more than what is being claimed by administration. I fear at least 200 people have died," he said. There was a brawl after some villagers alleged their belongings had been looted. Eye-witnesses alleged chain-snatchers were stalking devotees on crowded bridge and this further sparked off panic.
"The stampede began at around 8 am and the piling bodies served as a buffer. I stayed couched in the corner till 2 pm, when police finally arrived," he said. Another survivor who lost his friends in the tragedy, Ashok Patel, said, "The police are responsible. Vehicles should be stopped 6 km before the bridge. But there were no cops to man the entry. This led to overcrowding. More than 50 vehicles were present on the bridge when the stampede took place," he said.
They should be punished, Patel said. "I was on my way to the temple with 100 residents of our village. Only four are alive".
"More than 300 people have died there many have jumped into the river and washed away. Some fell down the bridge. Some were pushed out by the mob," he said. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/i...w/24120039.cms