Six devotees, including three women, were crushed to death and 12 others sustained serious injuries as poor crowd management triggered a stampede during the Rath Yatra celebrations at Puri on Friday.
Tragedy struck around noon as surging crowds breached a security barricade and fell on each other near Devi Subhadra’s chariot.
The incident occurred when the Holy Trinity — Lord Balabhadra, Lord Jagannath and Devi Subhadra — were being taken out of the Jagannath temple to board their respective chariots in a traditional procession, known as Pahandi.
There is always a mad scramble to touch the deities and grab a portion of their floral decorations as they emerge from the temple to board their chariots.
Puri superintendent of police Asit Panigrahi said, “The incident occurred outside the cordoned area around the chariots. The exact reason behind this incident is still being ascertained. ”
Chief medical officer of Puri, Trilocan Baral said: “We have received six bodies so far. All the victims are aged between 40 years and 50 years. They might have died due to stampede or suffocation.”
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has ordered an administrative probe into this tragedy.