27 dead in stampede during a huge pilgrimage in India


A huge crush on the banks of a holy river killed 27 people on Tuesday in southern India at the beginning of the pilgrimage season.

“Twenty-seven people were killed in the stampede and 29 were injured,” said a spokesman for the chief executive of the state of Andhra Pradesh (south) Chandrababu Naidu, Prabhakar Parakala.

Four women and a 15 year old girl among the victims, who have not yet all been identified, police said.

The stampede occurred two hours after the start of a pilgrimage on the banks of the Godavari River, where thousands of people were engaged in a ritual bath.

“The first group of pilgrims left the river after a bath and ran into another group who wanted to be in the water at a time deemed suitable” , said A. Rao Srinivasan, a senior official of the Police in Andhra Pradesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi  a message posted on his Twitter account.

10 million pilgrims

The beginning of this pilgrimage, called Maha Pushkaralu, coincides with the beginning of another pilgrimage bringing much larger crowds, the Kumbh Mela in Nashik in Maharashtra.

The organizers of this gigantic pilgrimage estimate that 10 million people could find themselves on the occasion of the main bathroom rituals, August 29, 13 and 18 September and about 20,000 police officers were deployed. They are desperate to avoid a repeat of the tragedy that took place there 12 years during the previous edition of the Kumbh Mela in Nashik: 39 people had then died also in a stampede.