Monday, 14 October 2013

Fatal crushes and religious festivals

At least 115 people are now known to have died in a stampede at a Hindu religious festival in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Panic broke out on a bridge near the Ratangarh temple, perhaps because of a rumour that it was about to collapse.

Most of the dead were women and children, some crushed, other who jumped into the river below. Hundreds of thousands had gathered for the festival of Navratra. The narrow bridge, which is about 550 yards long, had only recently been rebuilt following another stampede in 2006 that killed more than 50 people.

Stampedes often happen at Indian religious festivals. In 2008, more than 220 people were killed at the Chamunda Devi Hindu temple, while in 2011 more than 100 died in the southern state of Kerala.

The Muslim Hajj to Mecca has also seen a number of fatal crushes. In 1990, more than 1,400 died in a fearsomely hot tunnel after a few people had fallen. Four years later, at least 270 pilgrims died in another stampede, while in 2001, 244 people were killed at the traditional ceremony where stones are thrown at the devil, and 345 more perished at the same event in 2006.

(See also my blogs of November 23, 2010 and August 31, 2011.)

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