The Indian temple stampede which killed at least 168 people and injured 100 was caused by a false rumour of a bomb, it emerged.
Yesterday’s disaster took place just as the doors of the temple were being opened for worship at dawn for more than 12,000 people celebrating a key Hindu festival in the historic city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan state.
Television footage from after the stampede showed dozens of bodies lying on the pavement, while nearby, frantic people tried to revive unconscious devotees by slapping their faces and pressing on their chests.
Others dragged people by their arms and legs, running down a ramp that leads to the temple inside the massive 15th-century Mehrangarh fort that overlooks the town.
The temple floors were slick with coconut milk as thousands of devotees broke coconuts as religious offerings, causing terrified pilgrims to slip and fall as they scrambled to escape, said Ramesh Vyas, who had been standing in line waiting to get in to the temple at the time of the panic.
Mr Vyas said it was the bomb rumours that sparked the chaos, and that tensions were high because India had been hit by a spate of recent bomb attacks.
The latest explosions were on Monday night in the western cities of Malegaon and Modasa, killing six people and wounding 45.
The pilgrims had crammed a narrow 1.25-mile path leading to the temple. There was a power cut and some slipped on the ramp leading to the shrine, police said.
The injured were admitted to half a dozen hospitals in Jodhpur, about 180 miles south west of the Rajasthan state capital of Jaipur.