September 30, 2008
At Least 80 Die In Stampede
By Associated Press
JAIPUR, India -- At least 80 people were killed and more than 150 injured when thousands of pilgrims stampeded today at a Hindu temple in the historic town of Jodhpur in western India, police said.
Severe overcrowding apparently caused the crush as more than 12,000 people gathered at the temple to celebrate a Hindu festival, Jodhpur Police Superintendent Malini Agarwal said.
At least 80 bodies were at two local government hospitals, Agarwal said, adding most of the victims were dead when they arrived at the hospitals. She said the death toll could rise as many of the injured were in serious condition.
Television footage showed dozens of bodies lying on the sidewalk, while nearby frantic people tried to revive unconscious devotees, slapping their faces and pressing on their chests.
Others dragged people by their arms and legs, running down a ramp that leads to the temple inside the massive 15th century Mehrangarh fort that overlooks the town.
One child sat on the ground next to the body of a woman, rubbing her forehead and crying "mother, mother."
Thousands had gathered at the temple at dawn Tuesday to mark the first day of Navratra, a nine-day Hindu festival to honor the Mother Goddess.
Jodhpur is some 180 miles southwest of the Rajasthan state capital of Jaipur.
The Mehrangarh fort is one of the town's biggest tourist attractions with its huge walls, ornate interiors and views overlooking Jodhpur's "blue city."
Deadly stampedes are a relatively common occurrence at temples in India, where large crowds -- sometimes hundreds of thousands of people -- congregate in small areas lacking facilities to control big gatherings.
In August 145 people were killed when rumors of an avalanche sparked a stampede at a hilltop temple in northern India.