Patna: At least 32 people, including 20 women and 10 children, were killed and 26 others injured in a stampede that broke out this evening at the sprawling Gandhi Maidan filled with huge crowds here shortly after the end of the Dussehra celebrations.
Bihar Home Secretary Amir Subhani said, “32 people are killed and several other are injured in stampede at Dusssehra event in Patna.”
The tragedy struck at around 7 PM at the South East corner of the ground near the Exhibition road when people were returning after watching the "Ravana Vadh" (killing of demon king) event and jostled with each other to move ahead, eyewitnesses and officials said.
Tens of thousands of people had gathered to watch the annual event at the historic Gandhi Maidan where several pockets were reportedly dimly lit when the stampede broke out.
District Magistrate of Patna, Manish Kumar Verma had earlier informed that al least 25 people were killed and 15 have been critically injured during the stampede.
Talking to reporters here, Verma said, "25 people are dead as of now."
The injured were immediately taken to Patna Medical College Hospital, reports said. While some helpline numbers were issued for the distressed people, which are as follows:
Several ambulances were seen going inside the PMCH carrying stampede victims.
"There was a rush towards the exit gate that several women and children were run over in the frenzy," Manish Kumar Verma added.
Angry over the incident, hundred of people, including relatives of those killed and seriously injured, protested against the administration at Ramghulam square near Gandhi Maidan and outside the Patna Medical College and Hospital, where all injured were admitted for treatment.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the Bihar Chief Minister to enquire about the stampede. He sanctioned Rs 2 lakh each for the next of those killed.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi also expressed "shock and grief" over the deaths and injuries in the stampede incident.
"Dismayed at the unfortunate incident, Gandhi expressed the hope that the injured are being adequately attended to and conveyed her condolences to the families of those who passed away," a Congress statement said.
The incident happened soon after the effigy of Ravan was burnt during Dussehra festivities at the ground.
Earlier, reports said that half a dozen people had fainted at the event due to over-crowding at the Gandhi Maidan.
This is said to be the second such tragedy in less than a year on a festival - the last being during Chhath last year when 21 persons were reported dead.
However, it is not yet clear what caused the incident, with reports suggesting it occurred in a narrow road as crowds dispersed from the outdoor venue.
Eyewitnesses quoted by TV news channels said that the stampede started after word spread through the crowd that an electrical wire had snapped off and fallen down.
As per reporters who were at the scene, said an eyewitness told them that only one of the exits was opened for people to leave.
The stampede started when some wires fell on the crowd, which people thought were electricity wires, a reporter told.
In October 2013, at least 91 pilgrims, mostly women and children, were killed in a stampede at a religious festival near the Ratangarh temple in Madhya Pradesh.
With Agency inputs