In India, the number of people who have died in a crowd has risen to 97, the official said Religious news

growing story,

Hundreds more were injured as thousands gathered in Uttar Pradesh’s Hadhras district, and officials fear the toll could rise further.

A government official says nearly 100 people have been crushed and many injured at a Hindu religious gathering in northern India.

A large crowd gathered Tuesday for a preacher’s sermon in a village in Uttar Pradesh state’s Hadhras district, about 200 km (125 miles) southeast of the national capital New Delhi, but a severe dust storm sparked panic as people left.

Many were crushed or trampled, fell on top of each other, and some collapsed in the roadside ditch in the confusion.

“We have confirmed 97 deaths so far and are focusing on providing relief and medical assistance to the victims,” ​​Chaitra V, divisional commissioner of neighboring Aligarh district, told AFP news agency.

“While the participants were leaving the venue, a dust storm blinded their vision, leading to a scuffle and subsequent tragic incident,” he said.

State Chief Medical Officer Umesh Kumar Tripathi told reporters that most of the dead were women, adding that “many injured” were hospitalized.

People mourn near the bodies of victims in a stampede outside a hospital in Hadhras [Reuters]

Local media reported that there was a stampede as participants rushed to leave following the event with a religious leader named Bole Baba.

Unverified videos on social media showed bodies piled up on the ground outside a local hospital. Al Jazeera could not immediately verify the videos

Police officer Rajesh Singh said crowding could be a factor. Initial reports suggested that more than 15,000 people had gathered for the event, of which about 5,000 were allowed to hold.

Weeping women and weeping men gathered outside a mortuary in the town of Eta, where many of the dead sought news of their relatives.

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One survivor, Jyoti, who would only go by her first name, told local media that the stampede happened quickly after the event.

“Everyone was in a rush to get out … there was no way out, people were falling over each other,” he said.

“After the sermon, everyone started running out,” Sakundala, another woman who gave only her name, told the Press Trust of India news agency.

People were crying outside the hospital
People mourn the death of their relatives outside a hospital in Hadhras [Screengrab via Reuters]

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

“Instructions have been issued to the authorities concerned to carry out relief and rescue operations on a wartime basis and to give due treatment to the injured,” he wrote in X.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a compensation of $2,400 to the kin of those killed and $600 to the injured.

“My condolences to those who lost their loved ones…I wish all the injured a speedy recovery,” Modi wrote on social media platform X.

President Draupadi Murmu said the deaths were “heartbreaking” and expressed his “deepest condolences”.

Fatal accidents are common at places of worship in India during major religious festivals, when large crowds gather in small areas with few security measures in place.

In 2016, 112 people were killed in an explosion caused by the bursting of prohibited firecrackers at a temple on the eve of the Hindu New Year. The explosion ripped apart concrete buildings and set fire to the temple complex in Kerala state where thousands had gathered.

In 2013, another 115 devotees died in a stampede on a bridge near a temple in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

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Up to 400,000 people gathered in the area. There was a stampede after rumors spread that the bridge was about to collapse.

At least 224 pilgrims died and more than 400 were injured in a 2008 stampede at a hilltop temple in the northern city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan state.

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