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32 people killed in stampede during Dussehra event in Patna


Patna (Oct 3, 2014): At least 32 people, including 20 women and 10 children, were killed and 26 others injured in a stampede that broke out this evening at the sprawling Gandhi Maidan filled with huge crowds here shortly after the end of the Dussehra celebrations.

The tragedy struck at around 7 PM at the South East corner of the ground near the Exhibition road when people were returning after watching the "Ravana Vadh" (killing of demon king) event and jostled with each other to move ahead, eyewitnesses and officials said.

Tens of thousands of people had gathered to watch the annual event at the historic Gandhi Maidan where several pockets were reportedly dimly lit when the stampede broke out.

Patna Medical College and Hospital'a (PMCH) Deputy Superintendent Sudhanshu Singh said 32 people died in the stampede--20 women, 10 children and two men. Seven girls were among the 10 child victims, he said, adding 26 people were injured and receiving treatment.

Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has ordered an inquiry by Home Secretary and Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Gupteshwar Pandey, the CMO said.

He has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh each to the dead.

Condoling the loss of lives in the stampede, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sanctioned an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed.

Eyewitnesses said the stampede was sparked by rumours that a live high high tension wire had snapped and fallen on ground triggering panic. However, there was no official confirmation of the exact cause of the stampede.

Slippers, shoes and footwear lay strewn on a one-km stretch at the stampede site as people tried to flee from the scene.

The PMCH has been cordoned off by the security forces. Hundreds of people were milling around the PMCH, some of them wailing, trying to locate their near and dear ones who got separated in the event.

Several ambulances were seen going inside the PMCH carrying stampede victims.

"There was a rush towards the exit gate that several women and children were run over in the frenzy," Patna District Magistrate Manish Kumar Verma said.

The Bihar Chief Minister was present at the Gandhi Maidan where people watched an arrow setting the 60 feet tall effigy of Ravan into flames.

Inspector General of Police (Patna zone) Kundan Krishnan was seen manning the entrance of the PMCH regulating the entry of people.