At least 32 people have been killed in a stampede during the Dussehra celebration at Gandhi Maidan in Patna. More than 15 people have been injured in the incident.
The tragedy occurred when people were returning after watching the “Ravan Vadh” ceremony at the Bihar capital’s main Dussehra event at Gandhi Maidan where a huge crowd had gathered to witness the event, police said.
“Thirty-three people have died,” Bihar Home Secretary Amir Subhani said.
Officials said the dead were mainly women and children.
Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manji was present at the Gandhi Maidan where people watched an arrow setting the 60 feet tall effigy of Ravan into flames.
According to the Patna DM Manish Kumar Verma the injured have been rushed to Patna Medical College Hospital.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the Bihar Chief Minister to enquire about the stampede. He sanctioned Rs 2 lakh each for the next of those killed.
“Amongst the dead, there were 5-6 children and around 20 women,” according to Patna District Magistrate Manish Kumar Verma.
Principal Secretary Home Amir Subhani said that one more person died on Saturday, taking the toll to 33. Twenty-nine others were injured of whom the condition of four patients was stated to be critical, Subhani said.
Of the 29 injured admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), 17 are women and 12 are men, he said.
Subhani, who along with Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Gupteshwar Pandey has been appointed to inquire into the stampede incident, said he would begin the probe with a visit to the spot at Gandhi Maidan at noon.
The incident happened at the Exhibition Road area near Gandhi Maidan in the heart of the city, as some people in the crowd started jostling with each other to move forward, eyewitnesses said.
The police have blocked the entry of people to the stretch now.
Some eyewitnesses said that panic broke out following rumours that a live electric wire had fallen to the ground. Slippers, shoes and footwear were seen strewn on a 500 metre stretch as people tried to flee from the scene.
“There was so much rush towards the exit gate that several women and children were run over in the frenzy,” Verma said.
(with PTI inputs)