At least 60 die in stampede at India religious event

Worshippers in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh state
Worshippers in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh state

At least 60 people died and scores were injured after a stampede at a religious gathering of thousands of people in northern India.

More than 150 people were admitted to hospitals after the crush in a village in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh state on Tuesday, medical official Umesh Tripathi said, adding that the death toll could still rise.

Government official Ashish Kumar told The Associated Press that at least 60 bodies had reached mortuaries in the district.

The stampede occurred as attendees rushed to leave following an event with a religious leader named Bhole Baba, local media reported.

Police officer Rajesh Singh said overcrowding may have been a factor. Initial reports suggested that over 15,000 people had gathered for the event that had permission to host about 5,000.

"People started falling one upon another, one upon another. Those who were crushed died. People there pulled them out," witness Shakuntala Devi told the Press Trust of India news agency.

The stampede took place about 350 kilometers (217 miles) southwest of state capital Lucknow. Bodies were being brought to hospitals and morgues by trucks and private vehicles, government official Matadin Saroj said.

Uttar Pradesh's chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, called the stampede "extremely sad and heart-wrenching" in a post on social media platform X. He said authorities were investigating the cause.

Deadly stampedes are relatively common during Indian religious festivals, where large crowds gather in small areas with few safety measures.

In 2013, pilgrims visiting a temple for a popular Hindu festival in central Madhya Pradesh state trampled each other amid fears that a bridge would collapse, and at least 115 were crushed to death or died in the river.

In 2011, more than 100 Hindu devotees died in a crush at a religious festival in the southern state of Kerala.