17 killed in Chhath puja stampede in Bihar, CM orders probe
At least 17 'Chhath' devotees were killed in a stampede after a makeshift bridge collapsed in Patna Monday evening. Chief minister Nitish Kumar has ordered an inquiry into the incident and has announced a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh to the next of kin of each of the victims. HT reports.patna Updated: Nov 20, 2012 09:10 IST
Chief minister Nitish Kumar has ordered an inquiry into the incident and announced a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh to the next of kin of each of those killed, a district official said.
Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal blamed the state government for the incident.
Leader of opposition Abdul Bari Siddiqui, who met the injured at the hospital, criticised the negligence over treatment of the injured.
At least 17 'Chhath' devotees were killed in a stampede after a makeshift bridge collapsed in Patna on Monday. Many others, mostly women and children, were reported missing.
"I can see here, right in front of me, bodies of nine children, six women and two others," said a television correspondent present at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH).
Speaking to reporters at PMCH, Patna superintendent of police Jayant Kant, however, confirmed 14 deaths. "Several others are missing but we are still trying to ascertain the exact figure," he said.
A huge throng of people had assembled for the first 'aragh' (offering/obeisance) to the setting sun, at Adalatganj ghat on the bank of the river Ganga in central Patna when the incident took place.
"The injured have been admitted to various hospitals in the city. The toll may rise as the condition of some of the injured is critical," said Kant. "The bodies have been sent to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) for autopsy," he added.
Kant said the stampede occurred when a 'chechri' (makeshift bridge of bamboo) erected to help people reach the river gave way under the weight of devotees rushing to offer prayers to the setting sun.
"Fear-stricken people trampled on each other after the bridge collapsed at around 7pm," said Kant.
The city SP said the deaths were mainly the result of a stampede caused by a power cut that threw the area into darkness and not the collapse of the low-slung bamboo-and-rope bridge.
The temporary bridge had been constructed to enable devotees to reach the main bank, as the river has shifted its course away from the original bank.
"Between the river bank and the main course, there is a shallow stretch of dirty water, which is unfit for 'Chhath' rituals, said an official.
Chhath is Bihar's biggest festival.
(With IANS inputs)