At least 25 pilgrims, mostly women, died and dozens injured in a stampede during Godavari Pushkaralu – the 12-day festival, in which Hindu pilgrims gather on the banks of the Godavari River to take a dip in the holy water – in Rajahmundry district of Andhra Pradesh.
The incident occurred when the authorities opened the gates at the bathing ghat, and pilgrims started to push each other to reach the river bank first. They rushed towards one of the gates and tried to scale it.
Among the dead were 11 elderly men, 13 women and a 10-year-old boy. The bodies of victims were shifted to Rajahmundry government hospital, where at least 34 people have also been admitted with severe injuries. The condition of some of them is said to be critical. Most of the victims came from Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed condolences to the families who have suffered due to the accident. He also spoke to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to discuss the situation.
“Deeply pained at the loss of lives due to stampede at Rajahmundry. My condolences to the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured,” the prime minister tweeted.
Mr Naidu, who also took a dip in the river, tweeted that he was personally monitoring the situation and urged people not to panic.
Nearly 24 million pilgrims are expected to take part in the 12-day festival, which occurs once every 144 years.
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