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India Stampede Leaves 121 People Dead

A stampede at a Hindu religious festival in India killed at least 121 people, most of them women, reported Reuters.

Authorities said on Wednesday that the event was granted permission for only 80,000 people, but around 250,000 people gathered to attend the event in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh state, northern India, on Tuesday.

India Stampede Leaves 121 People Dead
Site of the religious event

The state authorities said that the 121 dead included 112 women and 7 children. Moreover, 31 people were injured. Most of the deaths resulted from suffocation, according to doctors involved in treating the victims.

Reasons behind the stampede are not clear yet. However, Indian local media reported that the crowd tried to approach the preacher to touch him.

After that, thousands of people flocked the exits, and many of them fell on the muddy ground, the Associated Press (AP) cited an initial police report. People continued to run after the preacher outside the tent as he left in a vehicle. The preacher’s security staff stopped the crowd, causing more people to fall.

India Stampede Leaves 121 People Dead
Stampede victims

In a statement, the preacher, Suraj Pal Singh, also known as ‘Bhole Baba’, blamed some “anti-social elements” for causing the stampede. Meanwhile, his attorney, A.P. Singh, said that Baba “is ready to cooperate with state authorities and the police.”

Authorities were investigating and trying to determine the whereabouts of the organizers and the preacher.

India Stampede Leaves 121 People Dead
People gathering outside a hospital that treats victims

Stampedes are common at Indian religious festivals, as large number of people gathers in small areas that lack adequate infrastructure and safety measures.

In 2013, attendance of a popular Hindu festival in central Madhya Pradesh state ran over one another fearing that a bridge would collapse. This incident left at least 115 people dead.

In 2011, a crush at a religious festival in the southern state of Kerala killed over 100 people.

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