At least 22 killed in Hindu festival stampede

Featured India - February 11th, 2013
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An Indian religious festival which drew millions of devout Hindus to the banks of the river Ganges ended in tragedy after a deadly stampede crushed at least 22 people, reports said Monday.

The stampede took place as massive crowds flooded the Allahabad train station on Sunday evening, causing a section of a footbridge at the station to collapse, Indian railway minister Pawan Bansal told reporters.

At least 10 people had died at the Allahabad station during the stampede, with 12 more succumbing to their injuries on the way to the hospital, according to Press Trust of India news agency.

More than 20 other who were injured were undergoing treatment while 15 of them were in critical condition.

“People were taking rest on these railings and the railings could not take the load. The joints broke,” a spokesman for the local Uttar Pradesh state, Ashok Sharma, told AFP.

Bansal denied that this had been the cause, saying that overcrowding on the platforms led to the incident, according to AFP. News reports said tens of thousands of people were at the train station at the time as they were heading home.

The tragedy came at the end of the auspicious day of the festival which organizers had earlier declared a success after a record 30 million people had taken a bath in the holy waters of the Ganges, which is said to rid themselves of their sins.

Stampedes are a constant risk during religious events in India, where crowd management are often inadequate as thousands of pilgrims participate in the holy festivities.