A deadly stampede at the Godavari Maha Pushkaram festival in Andhra Pradesh claimed the lives of at least 27 pilgrims on Tuesday, PTI reported, with most of the victims being elderly women.
The tragedy struck on Tuesday morning at a bathing ghat in Rajahmundry district, where Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu had also taken a dip in the Godavari river. Naidu has announced Rs. 10 lakh compensation for the families of the deceased.
"This is very unfortunate and shocking. I have come here many times to review arrangements to ensure smooth conduct of the event. But some problems cropped up in execution," he said.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have descended on the banks of the Godavari for the 12-day festival celebrated every 12 years to honour rivers. But this year marks Maha Pushkaram - a once in 144 year event.
I extend my invitation to all to be part of Godavari #MahaPushkaram2015 in Andhra Pradesh & make it a memorable experience.— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) July 13, 2015
My good wishes to all pilgrims on the start of the Kumbh Mela in Nashik. Have a wonderful pilgrimage, filled with joy & spirituality.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 14, 2015
Arun Kumar, a state official, said the stampede occurred when pilgrims pushed forward to take a dip in the Godavari, AP reported.
Naidu has asked pilgrims to avoid overcrowding at a single ghat and to follow queues.
It is regrettable that lives are lost in stampede at Rajahmundry Ghat. Request people not to panic. Situation brought under control. (1/3)— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) July 14, 2015
I request to people to head to other Pushkar ghats to avoid overcrowding at single ghat. I'm monitoring situation from control room. (2/3)— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) July 14, 2015
Request people to follow queues lines & instructions. Pilgrims' safety is top priority for us. Will provide all possible assistance. (3/3)— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) July 14, 2015
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also expressed his grief at the tragedy.
Deeply pained at the loss of lives due to stampede at Rajahmundry. My condolences to the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 14, 2015
I spoke to CM @ncbn & discussed the situation with him. The State Government is working to restore normalcy.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 14, 2015