More than 100 people have been killed and more than a dozen injured in a stampede at a Hindu religious gathering in northern India, authorities have confirmed.
A large crowd gathered on Tuesday in a village in Uttar Pradesh state’s Hathras district, about 200km (125 miles) southeast of the national capital, New Delhi, for a sermon by a preacher, and a fierce dust storm sparked panic as people were leaving.
Many were crushed or trampled and fell on top of each other. Some collapsed into a roadside drain in the chaos.
Prashant Kumar, the director general of police in Uttar Pradesh said at least 116 people died, most of them women and children.
The state’s chief medical officer, Umesh Kumar Tripathi, told reporters “many injured” have been admitted to hospital.
The stampede occurred as attendees rushed to leave the event with a religious leader named Bhole Baba. Police said overcrowding may have been a factor. Initial reports suggested more than 15,000 people had gathered for the event, which had permission for about 5,000.
People gathered outside one mortuary in the town of Etah, where many of the dead were taken, seeking news of their relatives. State Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered an investigation into the incident.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced compensation of $2,400 to the next of kin of those who died and $600 to those injured in the “tragic incident”. President Droupadi Murmu said the deaths were “heart-rending” and offered her “deepest condolences”.
Deadly accidents are common at places of worship in India during major religious festivals when large crowds gather in small areas with few safety measures.
At least 112 people were killed in 2016 in an explosion caused by a banned fireworks display at a temple to mark the Hindu New Year. The explosion ripped through concrete buildings and ignited a fire at a temple complex in Kerala state, where thousands had gathered.
Another 115 devotees died in 2013 in a stampede at a bridge near a temple in Madhya Pradesh state in central India.
Up to 400,000 people had gathered in the area. The stampede occurred after a rumour spread that the bridge was about to collapse.
At least 224 pilgrims died and more than 400 were injured in a 2008 stampede at a hilltop temple in the northern city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan state.

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