27 pilgrims killed in stampede at bathing ghats of East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh
Another tragedy has hit a religious gathering in Andhra Pradesh. So Indiaâ€™s brush with stampedes with religious occasion continues. More than 27 people have reportedly died and many more injured, several of them in serious condition, in bathing ghats in Rajahmundry in East Godavari of Andhra Pradesh.
The deaths reportedly took place at Godavariâ€™s famed ‘pushkaralu’ in a stampede that reports suggest could have been easily avoided. The victims, all hailing from coastal Andhra, include 11 women and four children. The bodies of the victims were shifted to the Rajahmundry government hospital. The injured were also brought to the hospital where the condition of some of them was stated to be critical.
The deaths have come as a shock for the administration. The tragedy occurred on the first day of the festival at one of the bathing ghats in Rajahmundry in East Godavari district on the banks of the Godavari river. A large number of pilgrims at Kotagummam pushkar ghat rushed towards the three gates and tried to scale them, leading to the stampede. Officials said pilgrims tried to vie with each other to reach the ghat as taking a holy dip in the early hours is considered auspicious.
The failure of the authorities to anticipate the huge crowds at the ghat and the lack of proper arrangements to regulate the pilgrims apparently led to the incident. The pilgrims coming out after a dip and those trying to reach the ghat were caught in the rush at the gates. A survivor said officials did not heed to repeated appeals to open the gates. The Godavari maha pushkaralu, a once in 144-year event, began on Tuesday morning.
It is a long religious ceremony. The 12-day pushkaralu, described as the Kumbh mela of the south, began in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who had a holy dip in Rajahmundry on Tuesday morning, rushed to the control room to monitor the situation. He appealed to people to form queues. He also requested the pilgrims to move to other ghats. The incident forced authorities to open the VIP ghats to the public. Crowds were also diverted from overcrowded ghats.