India Temple Stampede ‘Kills 60′
At least 60 pilgrims have been killed in a stampede near a Hindu temple in central India, police have said.
Thousands had gathered at the Ratangarh temple, about 60km (37 miles) from Datia town in Madhya Pradesh state, for a religious festival.
Panic broke out as crowds of pilgrims tried to cross a bridge on the Sindh river, near the shrine.
Most of the victims were killed in the stampede, while others drowned after jumping off the bridge.
Local devotee Atul Chaudhary, who survived the crush, told BBC Hindi there were a couple of thousand people on the bridge.
He heard screams, and people began rushing to get off the bridge.
“Several people could be seen flattened to the ground in the midst of the melee,” he said.
“Some of the youngsters panicked and jumped into the swollen river.
“I and my friends were close to the exit point and along with several others ran for safety. Scores of others were not so lucky.”
Local police chief DK Arya told local media that the stampede was probably sparked by a rumour that the bridge could collapse.
Other reports suggested that police used batons to control the crowd.
The narrow bridge is about 500m long, and had only recently been rebuilt following another stampede in 2007.
Mr Arya said at least 60 people had been killed, and about 100 wounded people had been taken to a hospital in Datia.
Emergency crews and specialist divers were still searching the river for bodies.
Local official Sanket Bhondve said the immediate priority was to provide relief to those injured.
The accident happened at about 09:00 (03:30 GMT), but information was slow to emerge because the temple is in a remote area with erratic mobile-phone coverage.
Hindu festivals in India are notorious for deadly stampedes.
In the past year, dozens have died in three similar tragedies.
In 2011 more than 100 died at a festival in the southern state of Kerala.
Inside Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort, more than 220 people were killed in 2008 in a stampede at the Chamunda Devi Hindu temple.