A stampede during a religious ceremony in northern India killed at least 16 Hindu pilgrims and more than 50 are injured on Tuesday late morning, officials said. The stampede happened at around 10:25 a.m. local time in the northern Indian holy town of Haridwar. Haridwar is about 500km southwest of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state. During the stampede some of the pilgrims tripped and fell while those behind continued to push forward.
Tens of thousands of people had gathered for the festival on the river banks for a prayer ceremony in the foothills of the Himalayas. They were there to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of religious Guru Pandit Sriram Sharma, who founded the Gayatri Pariwar. It is believed the water will wash away sins and free them from the cycle of life and rebirth.
Amit Chandola, a government spokesman said that police had recovered 16 bodies from the site and more than 50 people are taken to nearby hospital for treatment. Among the at least sixteen fatalities were fourteen women and two men, police said, adding that they died of suffocation during the stampede. Among the injured, many are in critical condition, police added.
These types of religious ceremonies in India often call for high risk of such stampedes.