Written by 23:53 World

They Came for Spiritual Revival, Only to Be Trapped in a Deadly Stampede

One moment, a crowd of tens of thousands, almost all women, were singing and swaying in devotion to a revered holy man in front of them onstage, all packed under a sprawling tent in northern India.

But as the guru left, people began pushing and shoving to get out from the close quarters and still, stifling heat under the pavilion. Some began falling, onto the muddy field underneath or into an adjacent ditch. There was panic and screaming. Bodies piled on top of each other everywhere.

By nightfall on Tuesday, the toll of the tragedy in Hathras district, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, was devastating: at least 121 people, mostly from poor communities, were dead. Dozens were injured.

For the families, the search for the remains of their loved ones brought them to several hospitals and stretched on past midnight.

At the Bagla Combined District Hospital, where 34 victims were taken, the dead bodies lay on melting slabs of ice that lined the corridor. Faces bore the marks of the ghastly stampede from the afternoon — a blob of mud hanging from hair, dried trickles of blood on skin. The corridor’s green carpet was drenched with slush and mud from the shoes and slippers of distraught relatives.

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Last modified: 4 July 2024
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