Stampede at religious event in northern India kills dozens

NEW DELHI — More than 100 people, mostly women and children, died in a stampede at a heavily attended religious event in northern India on Tuesday, according to local officials, who indicated the oppressive heat could have been to blame.

While the cause of the stampede was not immediately clear, the officials said the sweltering heat was a factor. The temperature in the area hit 90 degrees, and humidity levels reached 77 percent, pushing the heat index past 110.

Ashish Kumar, district magistrate of Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India, said the “incident took place when people were leaving the congregation due to excess stuffiness toward the end of the event.”

Chaitra V, a senior local official who oversees the districts where the stampede took place, told the Aaj Tak channel that there was “adequate space” at the venue. The event had obtained the proper permits, she said.

The problem, she said, arose when “people got stuck in the sludge while rushing out of the venue. They were rushing toward a source of water to save themselves from the heat.”

She said 107 people were killed and 18 people were injured in the stampede.

The religious event appeared to be a gathering of worshipers led by a local Hindu preacher in an open air venue with a tent erected for shade, according to videos of the scene and descriptions of the event by eyewitnesses to local media outlets. Such events usually involve singing as congregants gather around the preacher. Witnesses described a massive crowd at the event.

The injured and dead were taken to hospitals in Hathras and neighboring Etah district.

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state, Yogi Adityanath, expressed condolences for the victims in a post on X, saying he had directed local police and government officials to visit the site of the stampede. “Instructions have been given to the concerned officials to conduct relief and rescue operations … and to provide proper treatment to the injured,” he wrote.

The stampede is among India’s deadliest in recent years, though fatal crushes often occur at religious events. A stampede at an event at temple in India in 2013 killed at least 110 people.

Pietsch reported from Washington.

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