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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Five killed in stampede at Andhra temple

Hyderabad (IANS) At least five devotees were killed and 15 others were injured in a stampede Thursday at a temple on Indirakiladri hill in Andhra Pradesh's Vijayawada town, police officials said.

Those killed include four women and a child. The injured have been admitted to the government hospital in Vijayawada, about 280 km east of here.

Police said the mishap occurred around 5 a.m. during the annual Bhavani Diksha rituals at Durga Malleswari temple. More than 100,000 devotees had congregated on the hill for the last day of the rituals.

Vijayawada police commissioner C.V. Anand said the stampede occurred when thousands of devotees tried to surge towards the temple for a look at the deity.

He said police had warned the temple authorities on several occasions in the past that lack of proper arrangements could lead to a tragedy but they failed to take necessary precautions. He pointed out that the movement of devotees was limited to one road on the hill, leading to chaos during the rituals.

Vijayawada MP L. Rajagopal and legislator D. Nehru met the injured in the hospital. Nehru has announced a compensation of Rs.100,000 each to the kin of those killed and Rs.10,000 to each of the injured.

The temple near the river Krishna attracts thousands of devotees from all over Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states.

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