At least two women died of suffocation and 10 others were injured in overcrowding at the venue of the Nabakalebar Rath Yatra Festival in Odisha.
The sudden surge in the crowd occurred when the chariots of the deities, Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra were pulled between the Market and Balagandi Chhaks areas.
“One woman complained of chest pain and was taken to the hospital where she succumbed to her illness. The second woman’s death appears to be a case of exertion and suffocation. No external injuries were found on their bodies,” Odisha director general of police Sanjiv Marik told HT.
Marik said at least 700 people fainted due to the extreme humidity. They were carried away by volunteers and given first aid. Two women, injured after falling off a roof, were referred to SCB Medical College in Cuttack.
The stampede was the result of a sudden surge in the crowd surrounding the chariot as it was proceeding towards the Gundicha Temple, police said adding details are awaited.
There were no disruption in the festivities with devotees singing and dancing as the the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra -- called Nandighosha, Taladhwaja and Darpadalana -- passed by them.
Lakhs of devotees from across the country and abroad have gathered in the pilgrim town of Puri to witness commencement of the nine-day journey of the new idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra to Gundicha Temple.
Nabakalebara is the periodical renewal of wooden images of the three deities, once in every 12 or 19 years depending on which year has two Ashadha (rainy season).
Over 30 lakh pilgrims are expected to attend the festivities over these days and elaborate security arrangements have been made in the temple town.
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