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146 dead in stampede at Naina Devi


Anand Venkateswaran,CNN-IBN
Aug 04, 2008 at 11:31am IST

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New Delhi: An inconsolable Beli Ram mourns the death of both his daughters, who were among the scores killed in the stampede at the Naina Devi shrine in Bilaspur on Sunday.

In the worst-ever temple tragedy in Himachal Pradesh, 146 devotees, including 30 children, were killed and more than 50 injured in a stampede at the temple triggered by rumours of a landslide.

Thousands of pilgrims had come there to seek the blessings of the deity during the Shravan Navaratra festival which began on Saturday.

Suddenly, there was a false cry of landslide, which created panic along the crowded slope of the temple.

“We were standing near the railing, we tried to move but police did not allow us to. The railing collapsed and people fell on each other,” says an eyewitness.

The state government immediately announced Rs1 lakh compensation for the families of the dead, Rs50,000 for the critically injured and Rs25,000 for those who suffered minor injuries.

“We have asked Divison Commissioner to prepare a report and submit it as soon as possible. We will find out the cause of the accident and submit recommendations to prevent such incidents,” says Himachal Chief Minister.

A few minutes after the stampede, the road leading to the temple presented a horrific scene as motionless bodies of children, women and men, some of them clutching offerings they had brought for the deity, lay along the narrow road.

As rains continued, relief workers comprising of temple staff and residents of the area found it difficult to help the injured and carry them to neatest medical aid centre. However, the injured were taken to hospitals at Anandpur and Ropar in neighbouring Punjab.

The yatra was suspended after the accident but resumed on Monday morning.

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