South Asia

At least 121 people, mostly women, killed in stampede at India’s Hathras

HATHRAS, India — The death toll from a stampede at a Hindu religious congregation in northern India has risen to 121, with most of the victims being women, according to news agency ANI.

The tragedy occurred on Tuesday during a religious event in a village in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, about 125 miles southeast of New Delhi. A police report indicated that the number of attendees was more than triple the permitted capacity.

Authorities had authorized a gathering of 80,000 people, but around 250,000 attended, according to the police report reviewed by Reuters.

At least 121 people were killed and 28 were injured, ANI reported, citing local officials. The victims included 108 women and seven children, according to Manoj Kumar Singh, Uttar Pradesh state’s chief secretary.

The report described a scene of chaos when the preacher, Surajpal, also known as ‘Bhole Baba,’ was leaving in his car. Thousands of devotees surged toward the vehicle, causing a crush among those still seated. Some attendees fell into a nearby field of slush and mud, where they were trampled.

Local media reported that the event was organized by a group of devotees but did not specify individuals. ANI, in which Reuters has a minority stake, stated that police were attempting to determine the preacher’s whereabouts.

Hathras police officials were not immediately available for comment.

One attendee, Kamla, who had been attending the preacher’s gatherings for two decades, described the chaos. “I went to attend satsang (religious meet) with my 16-year-old daughter, and a stampede broke out around 2 in the afternoon,” she told ANI. While both were injured, her daughter later succumbed to her injuries in the hospital.