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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 November 2006, 07:35 GMT
India temple stampede kills four
View of the crowd outside the temple (Photo by Sarat Kumar Patra)
Large crowds gathered before the doors were opened
At least four people have been killed and 18 others injured in a stampede at a Hindu temple in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

The incident happened as thousands of devotees lined up to get into the Jagannath temple in the town of Puri to usher in a Hindu festival.

Witnesses blamed the authorities for opening the gates too late.

The 12th-Century temple - home to an idol of the god Jagannath - is one of the main pilgrimage sites for Hindus.

In January 2005, 265 pilgrims were killed in a stampede near a temple in the western Maharashtra state.

Thousands of people had gathered outside the famous Jagannath temple in Puri at the climax of a major festival which ends on Monday.

According to the administrator of the Jagannath temple, Suresh Mahapatra, the stampede happened at about 0600 (0130 GMT) as the gates opened and some 4,000 people rushed to get in.

The devotees, many of them elderly, had been lining up to catch a glimpse of the idol representing Jagannath, who is revered by Hindus as the God of the universe.

Police were brought in to control the situation.

Witnesses blamed the temple authorities for allowing the crowd of devotees to swell outside.

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