Kolkata: Seven people were killed and ten other pilgrims injured in a stampede, while they tried to rush to Gangasagar, about 150 km south of here, where lakhs of people have converged to take a holy dip on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti.
The incident happened around 6 am Thursday at the boat jetty in Kakdwip - from where pilgrims are ferried to the Gangasagar Island. The boats were not ferrying passengers due to the low tide and as soon as they resumed service, everybody tried to get in, so as to be amongst the first to reach Gangasagar and take the holy dip in River Ganga.
"They pushed each other, trying to board the vessel ahead of others. That caused the accident," police said.
"They broke the barricade and tried to go ahead. We had asked them not to board any vessel then, as the water level was low," police added.
Of the seven dead, six are women, while one is a child.
However, there are fears that the number of dead may rise further. Meanwhile, the injured have been shifted to nearby hospital.
Gangasagar in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district is where the mighty Ganga empties into the Bay of Bengal. It is considered as one of the holiest of places in Hindu religion. A dip here, especially during auspicious days, is believed to absolve one of his sins.