India stampede ‘kills 27 pilgrims’ in Andhra Pradesh

At least 27 pilgrims have died in a stampede on the banks of a holy river in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, local officials say.

The Hindu pilgrims had gathered to take a dip in the Godavari river at the start of the Maha Pushkaralu festival.

The stampede occurred at 08:00am (02:30 GMT) in the Rajahmundry district.

Nearly 24 million pilgrims are expected to take part in the 12-day festival. Pilgrims believe that taking a bath in the river will rid them of their sins.

“The incident happened as the first set of worshippers were coming out of the river after taking a dip and then got in the way of others who wanted to be in the water at an auspicious time,” AFP news agency quoted senior police official A Srinivasan Rao as saying.

Deadly stampedes during religious gatherings are fairly common in India.

In October 2013, 115 people died during a stampede at a Hindu festival in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. Most were crushed after panic broke out on a bridge near the Ratangarh temple. Others drowned when they jumped from the bridge into river waters below.

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