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Nearly 150 Die in India Temple Stampede


Nearly 150 people have been killed and scores of others injured in a massive stampede at a Hindu temple in the western Indian state, Rajasthan. From New Delhi, Anjana Pasricha reports Tuesday's stampede is the latest in a series of similar incidents that have taken place in different parts of the country.

The thousands of devotees who had gathered at Chamunda Devi temple in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, at dawn Tuesday to offer prayers were hoping to start a nine-day Hindu festival on an auspicious note.

But, for many families, the festival called "Navratri" turned into tragedy, as hundreds of worshippers were crushed in a huge stampede. Many were killed, others were injured.

Television footage showed a child crying for his father and devotees and relatives carrying the dead and the injured to rescue vehicles.

Officials say the stampede occurred after some people slipped on a steep path leading to the temple. The temple is located inside a historic 15th Century hilltop fort.

Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria says there was a massive crowd at the site. He says the pressure of the crowd on top of the hill caused people waiting below on the sloping path, to slip. He says this led to a massive crush, as people kept falling, one after another.

Police Inspector General of Rajasthan Rajiv Dasoth says authorities worked quickly to help the devotees.

"Within one hour, from that hill, very steep hill, all the injured have been evacuated to different hospitals," he said. "And, they are being treated and they are being taken care of."

Indian authorities have been criticized for poor crowd control at religious places, which attract massive crowds during festivals. In the past, similar stampedes at temples have claimed hundreds of lives.

Three other temple stampedes have been reported from different parts of the country, this year. The most deadly occurred last month, when a stampede outside a temple - also located on a hilltop - led to the death of 145 pilgrims in Himachal Pradesh State.


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