Women and children made up all of the 63 people were killed and dozens who were injured in a stampede that broke out in at a temple in northern India.It happened as thousands of people jostled to get free clothes and items being handed out during a religious ceremony. The crush of people also knocked down an iron gate at the entrance to the compound of a Hindu temple in Kunda, a small town south in Uttar Pradesh. Most of the dead at the ritual feast are said to be women and children. The temple gate was still being built. "We have now counted all the bodies and they include 37 children and 26 women who had come to collect free gifts," assistant superintendent of police SP Pathak told Agence France Presse news agency from the scene of the disaster. "The number of those injured is not very large and most of them have gone back home after the stampede," Pathak said, as people near the temple were left wailing. He said not a single adult male was crushed in the stampede, as women and children were in the front of the surging crowd.
The temple is owned by a Hindu holy man, Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj, who police say was marking the anniversary of the death of his wife, said Brij Lal, a senior local police official. Hundreds of devotees had gathered for a ceremonial feast. Rescue teams and ambulances were rushed to the temple, some from neighbouring areas and the injured have been taken to hospitals. But people there told the BBC that it took a time for help to arrive and there was no one on hand initially to offer them any help.
There has been a string of similar accidents in India, where big crowds of people congregate in an area, which is ill-equipped to handle large gatherings. In 2008, nearly 300 people were killed in stampedes and scores injured in two different Hindu temples in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh states. And in January, this year, seven people died at a festival on the river Ganges in West Bengal. Stampedes most often happen during religious pilgrimages and sporting and music events. The annual Muslim Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which is attended by millions of pilgrims, has increasingly suffered from stampedes, even as authorities have built new walkways and brought in new traffic controls to prevent them.
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children