110 killed, 400 injured in Chamunda Devi Temple stampede

via www.zeenews.com published on September 30, 2008

Jodhpur, Sept 30: At least 110 people were killed and over 400 injured in a stampede at Chamunda Devi Temple situated in a hillock at Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur. The stampede took place at 5:30 am on Tuesday.

Initial reports suggest that the stampede occurred after a wall collapsed near the entry gate which was followed by the rumour of a bomb explosion which caused the chaos among the people.

The incident points to a major lapse in the security as instead of the prescribed rules that the crowds should be sent in batches along the narrow path up the hill, the lack of enough security men led to people crushing on to each other. There were around 2,000 people in the narrow patch at the time of the stampede.

With Navratras beginning from today there were more than 20,000 devotees, mostly women, present in the temple at the time of the stampede. The stampede took place in the narrow street inside the temple when devotees tried to get the first glimpse of the Goddess. The stampede caused suffocation which led to the death of the devotees.

Of the dead, 50 bodies were brought to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital and the others are being sent to Mathura Das Hospital here, Divisional Commissioner Kiran Soni Gupta told reporters.

However, Director General of Police (DGP), Rajasthan, K S Bains, said that nearly 100 people were injured in the incident.

Officials said most of the dead were men as the stampede took place in the separate queue for males for going to the temple.

About 15 to 20 people were killed at the stop and the others succumbed to their injuries in Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, Mathura Das Hospital and Sun City Hospital, among others, in Jodhpur, they said.

The dead include a large number of young people, they said.

Meanwhile, the entry to the temple has been closed and Army has been called in to help in the rescue operations. The injured are being rushed to the hospital. The relatives of the injured and the deceased are accusing hospitals of being short of the vaccines and other medical facilities.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and state home minister are on their way to the site.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan government’s spokesperson, Rajendra Rathore, said, “It is an unfortunate incident……we are going to order an enquiry into the incident but our first priority is to provide medical facilities to the affected people. The Chamunda Devi Temple is quite famous among the devotees and is a private property & is being run by a trust and not by the Rajasthan government. The security arrangements were also made by the trust both outside and inside the temple premises, where the incident took place. This is the first time that such an incident took place in this temple.”

Clearing the air about the reports of a wall collapse, Rathore said, “A wall collapsed near the entry gate and followed by the rumours of a bomb explosion which caused the stampede.”

Confirming deaths of over 30 people in the incident, Rathore denied the reports of lack in medical facilities in the hospital, Rathore said, “There is no scarcity of medical facilities or medicines in the hospitals. We have directed the hospitals to purchase medicines that are not available and refer injured to the other hospitals if there is a need. The govt is making all the arrangements.”

Accordning to an eyewitness, “The stampede occurred at the temple as the authorities tried to stop pilgrims from entering the temple to make way for a VIP.”

In August, a stampede at Naina Devi temple in Himacjhal Pradesh killed at least 145 pilgrims.

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