Several dead, multiple injured after stampede at religious shrine in India

At least 12 people died and 13 were injured in a stampede at a religious shrine in India during Saturday’s early hours as pilgrims gathered to offer new-year prayers, officials said.

The disaster happened at the Mata Vaishno Devi in Indian-administered Kashmir, one of the most revered Hindu shrines in northern India.

Before the pandemic, about 100,000 devotees would visit the site every day, but authorities have capped the daily number at 25,000.

“At least 12 people lost their lives and 13 are injured,” one senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The toll could be higher as the route to the hilltop shrine was packed with devotees trying to do the customary new-year visit and prayers,” he said.

Another disaster-management official confirmed the death toll, saying the stampede took place at about 2:45 am (2115 GMT).

“A high-level inquiry has been ordered by the government into the stampede incident at the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine,” he said.

“Extremely saddened by the loss of lives,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter, adding that he was in touch with local officials.

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