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At least 116 people killed in crush at religious event in India, say local police

More than a hundred people were killed in a crush at a religious gathering in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, according to local police and administration officials.

The incident happened at a prayer meeting, known as a satsang, in the Mughal Garhi village in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, officials said. The village in India’s most populous state is around 200 kilometers (124 miles) southeast of the capital, New Delhi.

Local police said at least 116 people had been killed, though that number may rise.

The bodies of at least 27 of the dead were taken to Etah district mortuary, according to Inspector General Shalabh Mathur, of the neighboring district Ambala Range, while the rest of the bodies are in Hathras, he said.

A video distributed by Reuters showed crowds gathering outside a local hospital in Etah, where distraught families cried for the victims. Medical personnel could be seen carrying people on stretchers.

It is unclear what caused the crush of people, but survivors spoke of the harrowing incident in its aftermath. “People started falling one upon another, one upon another. Those who were crushed died. People there pulled them out,” Shakuntala Devi told the Press Trust of India news agency, according to Associated Press.

Efforts are underway to provide the injured with medical care and arrangements are being made for post-mortem examinations at various locations, Inspector General Mathur added.

Mathur said that a police report will be filed against event organizers for allegedly exceeding permitted attendance levels. A high-level inquiry has been launched to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident, he said.

Aligarh Commissioner Chaitra V said, “As of now, 116 deaths have been confirmed, with 18 injuries reported. Initial investigations are ongoing, and appropriate actions will be taken based on the findings.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences in an address in the lower house of India’s bicameral parliament known as the Lok Sabha.

Modi said the government is engaged in “relief and rescue work” and is coordinating with the state government. “The victims will be helped in every way,” he said.

Speaking to reporters, Ashish Kumar, the district magistrate of Hathras, said the stampede happened as people were leaving the event, which was held to celebrate the Hindu deity Shiva.

The district magistrate said police had given permission for the private event and officials were “put on duty for maintenance of law and order and security,” but arrangements inside were handled by the organizers.

An investigation into the incident will be conducted by a newly formed high-level committee, he added.

A new year’s crush in January 2022 at one of India’s holiest shrines in Jammu, in the north of the country, killed at least a dozen people.

This story has been updated with additional information.

This post appeared first on cnn.com
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