Some 32 dead in stampede in eastern India: official

A stampede at a popular religious festival in eastern India on Friday left 32 people dead and several dozen injured, an official said.

Thousands of people had gathered to celebrate the Dussehra festival at a ground in the city of Patna in Bihar state, when panic erupted, officials said.

It was unclear what triggered the stampede, which occurred as crowds were leaving the venue after watching giant effigies of the Hindu demon king Ravana set ablaze for Dussehra, which celebrates the victory of good over evil.

“We have information that 32 people including women and children died due to a stampede,” in state capital Patna, Bihar’s additional director general of police, Gupteshwar Pandey, told AFP.

“Dozens of people were seriously injured,” he said.

Patna district magistrate Kumar Verma put the death toll at between 20 and 25, adding that all of the injured have been rushed to the city’s hospitals.

“We are trying to save them,” he told reporters.

Television footage showed ripped clothes and discarded shoes just outside the Gandhi Maidan venue in Patna, as an angry crowd spoke of overcrowding during the festival and poor lighting.

India has a long history of deadly stampedes at religious festivals, where large numbers of people crowd into congested areas. Safety regulations are few, while inadequate policing can sometimes cause panic.