At least 63 people, more than half of them children, were killed in a stampede triggered by a massive rush for free food and clothes at a temple in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, police said.
Thousands of people had gathered at the old temple at Kunda village for free food and clothes being distributed by a monk, but panicked after a wooden gate collapsed.
“At least 37 among the dead are children and 26 of them are women,” said Mahesh Mishra, a senior police officer.
Some people were crushed to death under the gate, while others tripped and came under the feet of the rushing crowd as they tried to escape through a narrow corridor. More than 200 people were injured.
“The children fell first and the women in their attempt to save them fell on them,” said Shiv, a witness, who only gave his first name. “The crowd just trampled on whoever fell on the ground.”
Local residents in Kunda helped police carry the injured to nearby hospitals, police said.
Witnesses said a handful of policemen found it difficult to control the crowd which wanted to enter the temple premises.
In the country, stampedes are relatively common at temples, where thousands of people gather to pray during festivals.
In 2008, at least 285 people died in two temple stampedes in northern India.