Nearly seven pilgrims, six of them women and one child, have been killed and 12 others wounded in a stampede that occurred when they were boarding a boat to go for a holy dip to the annual Ganga Sagar fair in West Bengal’s south 24 Parganas district, said reports citing police.
PTI reported that the incident occurred at one of the quays from where pilgrims board boats to cross the river to Kachuberia and then go to Sagar island where the Ganga flows in the Bay of Bengal, some 80 kms south of Kolkata.
Khalil Ahmed, district magistrate South 24 Parganas, put the number of injured at nine and said that a crowd of pilgrims tried to get into a boat at jetty number three, which resulted in stampede, said report.
An official at the state police control room was quoted as saying by IANS that the pilgrims had been warned not to board any vessel because of the low tide.
“The incident happened at around 4.30-5 a.m. In their mad rush to get into the vessel, they broke a barricade. Some old women fell down. We always advise each group of pilgrims to keep women and children in the middle. But apparently this was not done,” Ahmed was quoted as saying by PTI.
“The seven dead included six women and a child,” he said.
The report said that injured have been admitted to Kakdweep Hospital and Diamond Harbour Sub-Divisional Hospital. Some of them are critical.
He said that more over 700,000 people have already converged at the famous Hindu pilgrim spot to take a holy dip at the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal on the occasion of Makar Sankranti and to pray at the Kapil Muni Temple, said report.
Movement of boats at the jetty was stopped for two hours after the mishap.