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India: station stampede kills 36 during Kumbh Mela

India: station stampede kills 36 during Kumbh Mela
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At least 36 people were killed in a stampede at a railway station in northern India on February 10, the busiest day of the Kumbh Mela religious festival.

The crush happened on Sunday – as millions of Hindu pilgrims headed to Allahabad to bathe in the sacred river Ganges.

A spokesman for India railways said 36 bodies had been found and 30 people were injured.

One woman stuck at the station complained, “We have been stranded here since last night. There is no facility for us and we have been sitting on the road all night. There are police here, but there is no organisation.”

Differing reasons have been given for what happened. A railway official said police used batons to control the huge crowd, sparking panic.

But a state government official said a footbridge handrail collapsed, triggering the crush.

Up to 100 million pilgrims and Hindu ascetics are expected to attend the two-month long Kumbh Mela festival, which comes to an end next month.

It is held every 12 years in a temporary city covering an area larger than Athens, spread over a wide sandy river bank in
Allahabad at the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet a third mythical river.

The festival grows in size every time it is held and is considered the world’s largest temporary gathering of people.

Officials said some 30 million visited the site on Sunday, considered the most auspicious day to bathe in the river.