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27 dead, 34 injured in stampede at bathing ghat at Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh
Hyderabad, July 14, 2015
At least 27 people, mainly elderly women, died and 34 others suffered injuries in a stampede during Pushkaralu, when thousands of people thronged a bathing ghat for a holy dip in the river Godavari, at Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh this morning.
District Collector H Arunkumar told NetIndian that the injured had been admitted to hospitals in Rajahmundry, where they were stated to be out of danger.
He said the deceased included 21 women, nearly all of them above the age of 60. One of them was aged 30 and another 12.
One of the victims was from Jamshedpur and another from Bangalore, he said.
"The situation is now totally under control," he said, adding that the bodies of the victims had been sent to their villages after completion of post-mortem examination and other formalities.
According to him, the stampede occurred around 8.30 am when thousands of people gathered at the Kothagammam ghat in the middle of the town though there are other ghats in other locations.
The stampede occurred, despite all the precautions taken and the barricades erected, when the unsually huge crowds surged forward towards the ghat, ignoring efforts by the authorities to divert them to other ghats.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his family had taken a dip at the same spot earlier in the morning.
Additional police forces were rushed to the area to ensure order, sources said.
"It is regrettable that lives are lost in stampede at Rajahmundry Ghat. Request people not to panic. Situation brought under control," Mr Naidu said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
"I request to people to head to other Pushkar ghats to avoid overcrowding at single ghat. I'm monitoring situation from control room," he said.
"Request people to follow queues lines & instructions. Pilgrims' safety is top priority for us. Will provide all possible assistance," he added.
The state government has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh for the next-of-kin of those killed in the incident and an immediate assistance of Rs 25,000 for those injured.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the stampede.
"I am saddened to learn about the stampede at the Pushkarulu Ghat of Godavari River in Rajahmundry District of Andhra Pradesh, where a number of devotees have lost their lives and many others are injured. I understand relief and rescue operations are currently underway," Mr Mukherjee said in his message to Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan.
"I call upon the State Government and other authorities to provide all possible aid to the bereaved families, who have lost their near and dear ones as well as medical assistance to the injured.
"Please convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to the injured persons," he said.
"Deeply pained at the loss of lives due to stampede at Rajahmundry. My condolences to the families of the deceased and prayers with the injured," Mr Modi said.
"I spoke to CM N. Chandrababu Naidu and discussed the situation with him. The State Government is working to restore normalcy," he added.
The religious event is held once in 12 years when thousands of people from the region converge in the town to take a dip in the river. This year, it was an even more auspicious occasion, from the astronomical point of view, as it occurs only once in 144 years.