Stampede On Indian Temple Bridge Kills Dozens
At least 89 people reportedly died in a stampede Sunday at a temple in central India, where 25,000 people had crowded onto a bridge. Police believe a rumor that the bridge was collapsing sparked panic and confusion, according to local media.
Update at 12:15 p.m. ET: More Deaths Reported
Officials say at least 89 people died in the stampede. And the number may still rise, the Times of India reports, citing police officials. More than 100 people are reportedly injured. We've updated the top of this post to reflect the information.
Our original report continues:
The BBC spoke to Atul Chaudhary, a local who says he was on the bridge near the Mandula Devi temple in the state of Madhya Pradesh when he heard screams and saw panic break out.
"Several people could be seen flattened to the ground in the midst of the melee," he said. "Some of the youngsters panicked and jumped into the swollen river.
"I and my friends were close to the exit point and along with several others ran for safety. Scores of others were not so lucky."
Officials say the death toll may grow as they sort through the scene. Dozens of people remain missing; many of them may have jumped from the bridge into the Sindh River.
The Hindu devotees had been making a pilgrimage to the temple in the Ratangarh village as part of a large, dayslong celebration honoring the goddess Durga.
As India's NDTV reports, some attendees blamed police for the incident.
"Alleging that the police did not act on time to prevent the stampede, angry devotees pelted stones on them in which at least six cops were also injured," the station reports. "The devotees alleged that cops resorted to lathicharge to control the crowd, a charge denied by a senior police official."
A lathicharge, we'll note, is a coordinated charge by police using batons as a crowd-control measure.