October 3, 2014 / 4:03 PM / 3 years ago

Stampede at Hindu festival kills 32 in eastern India

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - At least 32 people were killed in a stampede during a Hindu festival in the eastern Indian state of Bihar on Friday, most of them women and a few children, the state police chief said.

People search for their belongings amongst shoes left behind during a stampede in Patna October 3, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

A huge crowd had gathered at an outdoor venue in the state capital, Patna, for the burning of effigies at dusk, part of the Dusshera festival.

Officials said the stampede happened as people were leaving at the end of the event. Television channels quoted a witness as saying there were not enough lights when the ceremony ended.

At least 15 injured people were taken to hospital, the police chief, P.K. Thakur said. Police are examining closed circuit television to determine what had triggered the stampede.

“There was very little police presence and there were vendors who had put up their stalls at the exit gates, making it more difficult to leave,” a witness told NDTV.

Patna police superintendent Prantosh Kumar Das said some people reported that had they heard a rumour that a live electric wire had fallen on the public ground and it quickly spread through the crowd, prompting a rush for the gates.

Television showed shoes, slippers and handbags strewn over the ground.

Dusshera is one of the biggest Hindu festivals celebrating the victory of good over evil from the epic Ramayana.

Reporting by Jatindra Das and Rupam Jain Nair; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robin Pomeroy and Sonya Hepinstall

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