India: Scores killed in temple stampede

At least 40 people were killed and more than 100 injured today when thousands of pilgrims stampeded at a Hindu temple in the historic town of Jodhpur in western India.

Severe overcrowding apparently caused the crush as more than 12,000 people gathered at the temple to celebrate a Hindu festival, Jodhpur Police superintendent Malini Agarwal said. The bodies of 40 people were taken to two local hospitals, she said.

Television footage showed dozens of bodies lying on the pavement, while nearby frantic people tried to revive unconscious devotees, 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.

One child sat on the ground next to the body of a woman, rubbing her forehead and crying: “Mother, Mother.”

Thousands had gathered at the temple at dawn to mark the first day of Navratra, a nine-day Hindu festival to honour the Mother Goddess.

Jodhpur is 180 miles south west of the Rajasthan state capital of Jaipur.

Deadly stampedes are a relatively common occurrence at temples in India, where large crowds – sometimes hundreds of thousands of people – congregate in small areas lacking facilities to control big gatherings.

In August 145 people were killed when rumours of an avalanche sparked a stampede at a hilltop temple in northern India.

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