Allahabad stampede toll mounts to 36

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 11, 2013 05:10 hrs

Allahabad: The death toll in the stampede at Allahabad railway station reached 36 today, with 14 more people succumbing to their injuries.

CMO Allahabad Dr Prabhakar confirmed the toll, saying 14 more people died during treatment.

Many injured are being treated at the railway hospitals and the SRN Hospital here, he said.

The victims include 26 women, 9 men and a child, official sources said, adding bodies of 20 of the deceased have been identified.

The stampede occurred at 7 PM yesterday at Platforms No 5 and 6 where thousands of passengers, mostly Maha Kumbh devotees returning after taking the holy dip at the Sangam, had gathered to board a train.

Several eyewitnesses said there was a lathicharge by the police that compounded the panic but Divisional Railway Manager Harinder Rao claimed passengers were not baton charged and that police only attempted to regulate the movement of the crowd at the platforms by asking passengers to stand in line.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had condoled the loss of lives in the tragedy and instructed Railway ministry to provide all possible assistance.

Singh also directed Central government departments to extend all possible help to Uttar Pradesh government in relief operations.

The UP government ordered an inquiry into the stampede and asked the Railways to make proper arrangements to clear rush of devotees and sanctioned an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh to the kin of each of the dead persons. 

Over 30 million pilgrims took a dip on the occasion of 'Mauni Amavasya', considered the most auspicious day  during the 12-yearly congregation, at Sangam - the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers.

The local authorities, railway officials and other volunteers took the injured to the nearby hospital.

Railways Minister Pawan Bansal mentioned that his ministry has arranged more trains to ferry people from Allahabad.

Meanwhile, the government of Uttar Pradesh announced rupees 5,00,000 compensation to kin of deceased and 1,00,000 to injured persons.

Officials believe that during two months as many as 100 million people visit the site of the Mela that covers an area larger than Athens on a wide sandy river bank. That would make it larger even than previous festivals.

More than 2,000 years old, the festival is a meeting point for the Hindu Sadhus (ascetics) and monks, some of whom live in forests or Himalayan caves, and who belong to dozens of inter-related congregations.

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