60 killed in Madhya Pradesh temple stampede

Bhopal, Oct 13 (IANS) At least 60 people were killed and more than 100 others were injured in a stampede in Datia district of Madhya Padesh Sunday morning as devotees thronged a temple on the last day of the Navratri festival, a senior police officer said.

A large number of devotees had thronged the Ratangarh temple of goddess Durga for prayers, when the stampede occurred following over-crowding on a narrow bridge across the Sindh river.

An eyewitness said police personnel used batons to control the surging crowd and this led to the crowd stampeding.

In the stampede, some of the devotees are feared to have fallen off the bridge into the fast flowing river below.

Deputy Inspector General of Police D.K. Arya told IANS that at least 60 people were killed and more than 100 were injured in the accident.

He said the toll was likely to increase as many pilgrims were critically injured and some were missing after falling off the bridge.

Expressing grief over the accident, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan declared a compensation of Rs.1.5 lakh to the kin of each of those killed in the stampede.

The chief minister had sought permission of the election commission before announcing the compensation as the state is going to polls Nov 25.

Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav also expressed grief over the tragedy.

Datia legislator Narottam Mishra, who is also the state government spokesman, said the stampede did not occur due to alleged police baton charge, but following a rumour that the bridge was collapsing. He said he was on way to Ratangarh to oversee the rescue operation.

An angry crowd pelted stones at the police in which 12 policemen, including two officers, were injured.

Datia is about 390 km from state capital Bhopal.

The Ratangarh Durga Mata temple is located in a dense forest on the banks of Sindh river, in Datia district. Every year thousands of devotees flock the temple during the Navratri festival. The maximum crowds are witnessed on the last day of the nine-day festive period.

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