Patna: In a tragic incident, fourteen people died when a makeshift bridge collapsed during the Chhath festivities in Patna.
Most of those killed were women and children. Scores others were injured as the brigde caved in triggering a stampede at Adalatganj ghat on the bank of river Ganges, a police official said. The bridge made of bamboo collapsed due to heavy rush.
Fear-stricken people trampled on each other after the bridge collaped at around 1900 hours, Superintendent of Police (SP), City, Jayant Kant said. He confirmed that fourteen had died in the mishap. The toll may rise as the condition of some of the injured persons was critical, the SP added.
The bodies of those killed in the stampede have been sent for post mortem at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) at Patna, Kant said, adding the the injured persons have been taken to various hospitals for treatment.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced Rs two lakh compensation to the next of kin of the victims, an official spokesman said.
Of the amount, Rs 1.5 lakh would be given by the disaster management department and Rs 50,000 from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.
The Principal Secretary (Disaster Management) has been asked to launch rescue and relief work on a war footing, he said.
Kumar has directed the Principal Secretary (Home) to probe the incident.
The CM also asked the officials to ensure that the injured persons get the best medical assistance.
State Congress president Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser and party spokesman HK Verma accused the Bihar government of constructing a sub-standard make-shift bridge ahead of the Chhath festival.
Demanding a CBI probe into the incident, they said the chief minister should resign on moral ground.
Local MP Shatrughan Sinha too demanded a high-level probe into the incident. The person or persons found guilty should be dealt with strictly, Sinha, BJP MP from Patna Sahib constituency, said.
Meanwhile, a Jamshedpur report said the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha demanded a high-level enquiry into the incident.
Describing the incident as unfortunate, JMM senior vice- president Sudhir Mahto said Bihar government should order a high-level enquiry into the incident and punish the officials responsible for it.
Mahto also demanded adequate compensation to the family of the victims.
The Chhath puja, in which the Sun God is worshipped, is one of the biggest religious festivals of Bihar. Chhath is celebrated six days after Diwali.
Lakhs of devotees offered 'Arghya' to the Sun God on Monday in various water bodies across Bihar on the third day of the Chhath festival.
In Patna, fasting men and women thronged the ghats on the bank of Ganga and stood in waist-deep water to offer prayers to the setting Sun to seek blessings for their families.
With PTI inputs
First Published: Monday, November 19, 2012, 19:55