NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — At least 24 people are dead in the aftermath of a stampede at a religious gathering on the outskirts of the northern Indian city of Varanasi. Dozens others were injured.
Saturday’s crush happened on the outskirts of Varanasi, a city in Uttar Pradesh state known for its temples, as people tried to cross a crowded bridge over the Ganges river.
Police officer SK Bhagat said that organizers were expecting 3,000 Hindu devotees at the ceremony, but that more than 70,000 thronged the ashram of a local Hindu religious leader, Jai Baba Gurudev, on the banks of the Ganges river.
Millions of Hindus descend upon Varanasi every year to pray and wash away their sins by taking a dip in the river.
“We were not prepared for such a large crowd,” Raj Bahadur, a spokesman for the organizers, told Associated Press.
The stampede began after police started turning back people from the overcrowded Rajgahard bridge, the Press Trust of India news agency cited Bahadur as saying. That triggered a rumor among the devotees that the bridge had collapsed, and they started running for safety, he said.
Deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the stampede in Varanasi. Condolences to the bereaved families. Prayers with those injured.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 15, 2016