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More than 20 killed in Allahabad stampede

Thousands of pilgrims who had come to take a holy dip in Ganga jostled with each other to enter the already-crowded trains in Allahabad railway station leading to a stampede. Unconfirmed reports say at least 20 people were killed and scores injured. Uttar Pradesh urban development minister Azam Khan confirmed that 20 people have died so far. ‘The toll may go up as condition of many remains serious,’ he said.

‘Thousands of people crowded the Allahabad railway station in a rush to board trains after taking a dip in Ganga river. It is not clear how the stampede actually started but it is believed that some people were sitting on the foot over bridge and the police used force to make them leave that place,’ he said.  

The Kumbh mela that is held after every 12 years is expected to see more than 10 crore people taking bath to cleanse their souls in the 55-day-long festival that began on 14 January. The most auspicious of these bathing days was on Sunday when 3 crore people took a dip at Sangam – the point where three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati meet.

Some eyewitnesses said police started baton charge on pilgrims that started the stampede. A portion of a railing of the over bridge collapsed and people fell one over the other.

‘An old woman fell and as some people were trying to get her back to her feet, many in the crowd surged forward, tripping over others,’  an eyewitness told a news channel.

‘It was simply a case of overcrowding,’ Arun Kumar, a senior police official said.

Governor BL Joshi and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav have expressed sorrow over the death of pilgrims. Yadav has ordered an enquiry into the incident and has announced Rs 5 lakh as ex-gratia for the family members of those who died in the stampede. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed shock at the loss of lives in the stampede.

The injured have been admitted to the Central hospital in the mela area.
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