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India: Over 100 killed in stampede at religious gathering

July 2, 2024

Officials in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh say over 100 people were killed and more were injured. Crowds had gathered in Hathras to celebrate the Hindu god Shiva in the city of Hathras.

Women mourn next to the body of a relative outside the Sikandrarao hospital in Hathras district in India, Tuesday, July 2, 2024.
Crowds had gathered to celebrate the Hindu god Shiva in the city of Hathras, some 140 kilometers south of New DelhiImage: Manoj Aligadi/AP/picture alliance

Over 100 people were crushed to death in a stampede at a Hindu religious gathering in Mughalghari village in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh in northern India on Tuesday, officials said.

Medical and government officials gave varying death tolls in a fluid situation, with most recent estimates exceeding 100 people and many more in hospital, some with serious injuries. Medical official Umesh Tripathi said the death toll could still rise.

"Many injured have also been admitted," Tripathi said, adding that most of the dead were women. "The primary reason is a stampede during a religious event."

Several hours after the crush, Chaitra V., divisional commissioner of Aligarh city in Uttar Pradesh state, told reporters that "the death toll stands at 116," with at least 18 others injured. The death toll later rose to 121 with at least 28 injured, Indian media reported.

What do we know about the stampede?

Crowds had gathered to celebrate the Hindu god Shiva in the city of Hathras, about 140 kilometers (85 miles) south of New Delhi.

"The attendees were exiting the venue when a dust storm blinded their vision, leading to a melee and the subsequent tragic incident," Chaitra V. told the French AFP news agency.

The precise cause of the stampede remains unclear, but media have cited police sources as saying that hot and humid weather may have led to uncomfortable conditions, prompting panic.

Stampede in India kills dozens: DW's Adil Bhat reports

"There was wet mud at one place where people may have slipped. Also because of the heat, people may have made their way to the spot where water was kept and that could have caused the incident as well," Chaitra V. said.

Senior police officer Shalabh Mathur said that it appeared "more people had come than permission was asked for."

DW's Adil Bhat said the "event was all crowded and there were narrow exits, which basically led to this tragedy," citing locals.

"They also say that the stampede happened as soon as the event ended, and everyone was in a rush to leave," Bhat added.

"There was a huge crowd of [worshippers] gathered at the spot," one victim told the Hindustan Times in a nearby hospital.

"There was no way out, and everybody fell on each other, and a stampede took place," the victim said. "When I tried to move out, there were motorcycles parked outside, which blocked my way. Many fainted while others died."

State Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has already ordered an investigation into the incident.

"Instructions have been given to the concerned officials to conduct relief and rescue operations on [a] war footing and to provide proper treatment to the injured," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Officials mourn, offer compensation

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mourned the victims, announcing compensation of $2,400 (roughly €2,235) to the next of kin of those who died and $600 to those injured in the "tragic incident."

"My condolences are with those who have lost their loved ones... I wish for the speedy recovery of all the injured," Modi wrote on social media.

President Droupadi Murmu said the deaths were "heart-rending" and offered her "deepest condolences."

Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh chief minister who is also a Hindu monk, expressed his condolences to the relatives of those killed, his office said, announcing an investigation into the incident.

"He has directed the district administration officials to immediately take the injured to the hospital... and to speed up the relief work at the spot," the office said.

Deadly accidents are not uncommon in India during large religious gatherings.


An injured man is taken by ambulance to Sikandrarao Hospital,
Indian officials have announced compensation sums and ordered an investigationImage: Manoj Aligadi/AP/dpa/picture alliance

mf,rc,rmt/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)