January 6, 2008

Andhra temple stampede kills 15

by Brian Turner

Andhra temple stampede kills 15

At least five people have been killed and 15 others injured in a stampede at a Hindu temple in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

The incident occurred at the Shri Durga Malleswara temple in Vijayawada city, 170 miles (270km) from the state capital, Hyderabad, an official said.

The five were killed when thousands of devotees pressed forward to garland the statue of goddess Durga.

Five of the injured were in serious condition, officials said.

More than 100,000 devotees had gathered at the hill-top temple the Associated Press quoted Andhra Pradesh Endowment Minister, Ratnakar Rao, as saying.

Mr Rao said the dead included four women.

The rituals had continued after the stampede, he said.

The city’s police chief, CV Anand, blamed the temple management for the tragedy.

He said police had alerted the temple authorities that a huge crowd was expected for the ceremony and had asked them to ensure adequate crowd control.

The temple has only one gate which is used for both entry and exit.

In November 2006, four people were killed and 18 others injured in a stampede at the Jagannath temple in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

In January 2005, 265 pilgrims were killed in a stampede near a temple in the western Maharashtra state.

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