Kashmir stampede at Hindu shrine kills at least 12 people | Kashmir

At least 12 people have died and 13 have been injured in a stampede at a non secular shrine in Indian-administered Kashmir as 1000’s of pilgrims massed to supply prayers.

The catastrophe occurred round 3am on New 12 months’s Day whereas it was nonetheless darkish on the path to the Vaishno Devi shrine, one of many space’s most revered Hindu websites.

“People fell over one another … It was tough to determine whose leg or arms have been tangled with whose,” witness Ravinder, who gave just one identify, advised AFP. “I helped decide up eight our bodies by the point ambulances arrived after about half an hour. I really feel fortunate to be alive however am nonetheless shaking with reminiscence of what I noticed.”

The Vaishno Devi shrine, deep in mountainous Indian Kashmir. {Photograph}: Vijay Mathur/AFP/Getty Pictures

One official mentioned that there was a rush to supply particular prayers for the brand new yr however this was not confirmed by others.

Mahesh, a devotee who gave just one identify, advised Related Press the stampede occurred close to one of many gates the place pilgrims entered and exited the path to the shrine.

“One thing occurred close to one of many gates and I discovered myself beneath a crush of people. I suffocated and fell however in some way managed to face up,” he mentioned. “I noticed people transferring over the our bodies. It was a horrifying sight, however I managed to assist in rescuing some injured people.”

One other devotee named Priyansh mentioned he and 10 mates from New Delhi arrived on Friday night time to go to the shrine and that two of his mates died within the incident.

“I’ve by no means seen something like this,” he mentioned.

Police load a coffin of a victim of the stampede in the nearby town of Katra.
Police load a coffin of a sufferer of the stampede within the close by city of Katra. {Photograph}: Channi Anand/AP

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, expressed his condolences on Twitter. “Extraordinarily saddened by the lack of lives as a consequence of a stampede,” Modi wrote.

Earlier than the pandemic, day-after-day about 100,000 devotees would trek up a steep winding monitor to the slender cave containing the shrine to Vaishno Devi, about 60km from town of Jammu. Authorities had capped the day by day quantity to 25,000 however witnesses and press studies mentioned that this may increasingly have been exceeded a number of occasions over.

Two stampedes in as many months in 2008 – one in Rajasthan and one in Himachal Pradesh – left greater than 370 people lifeless. Others in Kerala in 2011 and in Madhya Pradesh two years later every killed greater than 100.

Within the newest incident, different studies steered an argument had damaged out between devotees.

Rescue operations began instantly and the injured – a few of whom have been reported to be in a severe situation – have been taken to hospital.

Video footage on social media confirmed small minivan ambulances with flashing lights speeding to hospitals whereas it was nonetheless darkish, in addition to huge crowds.

Entry to the shrine was halted after the stampede however later resumed.

Witness Ravinder mentioned the crush occurred at a degree the place large crowds of people coming down from the shrine meet these going up. He estimated that there have been at least 100,000 people.

“Nobody was checking registration slips of the devotees. I’ve been there many occasions however by no means seen such a rush of people,” he mentioned. “It was solely when a few of us managed to raise a lifeless physique up with our fingers that people might see [what was happening] and made area for transferring the our bodies out,” he mentioned.

With Agence France-Presse and Related Press

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