At least 27 people have been killed and 20 others have been injured in a stampede on the banks of the Godavari river in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh.
Hundreds of devotees had gathered on the riverbank to take a holy dip on the opening day of the ‘Pushkaram’ festival, a big religious event which is held once in 12 years.
The stampede occurred between 7.30 and 8 on Tuesday morning. Most of the victims were elderly people. And of the 27 people killed, 13 of them were women.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu was also at the spot and took the holy dip along with his family early on Tuesday morning.
“This is very unfortunate and shocking. I have come here many times to review arrangements to ensure smooth conduct of the event. But some problems cropped up in execution,”said Naidu.
He also announced an ex-gratia of 10 lakh rupees for the family of the deceased and said if necessary, he would remain in Rajahmundry for the next 11 days. The CM has also been monitoring relief and rescue operations.
Those injured were rushed to a nearby hospital and the bodies have been shifted to Rajahmundry Government Hospital said the Sub-Collector of Rajahmundry, Vijaya Ramaraju.
There is a possibility that the deaths were also caused due to suffocation, the officer added.
Godavari ‘Pushkaram’ is observed once in 12 years, and people from all over the state congregate there to take the holy dip. This year, from astronomical point of view, was special because it is the year of ‘Maha Pushkaralu’ which comes just once in about 144 years.
(With inputs from PTI)