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Page last updated at 20:53 GMT, Sunday, 3 August 2008 21:53 UK

India temple stampede 'kills 140'

At least 140 people have died in a stampede at a Hindu temple in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.

A rain shelter on the mountain path to the temple collapsed, triggering rumours of a landslide.

Many of the victims were children, trampled to death during the panic. Fifty more people were hurt and are being treated in hospital.

Tens of thousands of devotees had been gathering to celebrate the annual nine-day festival of Shravan Navratras.

An investigation is now under way into the incident at the Nainadevi temple, in the Bilaspur district, about 160km (100 miles) from the Himalayan hill town of Shimla.

Most of the worshippers are believed to be from the neighbouring state of Punjab.

Sunday crowds

Thousands of Hindu worshippers were climbing up a 4-km (2.5-mile) trail leading to the hilltop temple, chanting and singing hymns, when the stampede happened.

Map

The rain shelter collapsed during poor weather conditions, causing widespread panic.

Children lost their grip on their mothers' hands and were crushed under the feet of scared pilgrims attempting to leap over broken railings to save themselves, witnesses said.

Television footage showed the narrow path strewn with torn clothes and bags of flowers and offerings.

Survivors gathered at nearby hospitals looking for injured relatives.

The chief minister of Himachal Pradesh is said to have offered compensation to those injured in the stampede, and to the families of those killed.

Indian temples are regularly hit by stampedes, as huge crowds of Hindu devotees flock to make offerings at festival times.

There have been at least three fatal stampedes in the country so far during 2008, although the numbers killed were far smaller than in the latest incident.


SEE ALSO
Timeline: Most deadly stampedes
03 Aug 08 |  South Asia
India temple stampede kills six
04 Jul 08 |  South Asia
India temple stampede kills eight
27 Mar 08 |  South Asia
Deadly temple stampede in India
03 Jan 08 |  South Asia
'Scores die' in India stampede
03 Aug 08 |  South Asia
Country profile: India
24 Jul 08 |  Country profiles

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