Posted at 09:48 AM ET, 11/08/2011

India stampede kills 16, following long history of religious holiday calamities

A stampede killed 16 Hindu pilgrims and left about 50 injured during a religious ceremony Tuesday on the banks of the River Ganges in northern India.

Hindu devotees crowd the site of a stampede after the accident on the banks of the River Ganges in Haridwar. (AP)
Thousands of people had converged on the river banks in Haridwar for a prayer ceremony. The stampede was triggered after several people tripped and fell, but the people behind them continued to push forward, according to government officials.

Stampedes are a common occurrence at Hindu religious holidays, where officials find it difficult to manage the large number of devotees gathered in one place In the past, these “temple crushes,” as the local press refers to them, have been caused by railings that gave way, barricades overturned by the crush of the crowd, or panic spread by police intervention.

But there are legions of other causes. In January, more than 100 people died and 100 more were injured during a stampede near a temple in the state of Kerala in Southern India, reportedly caused by an SUV blocking the devotees’ path. In March of last year, at least 71 people were killed and more than 200 injured at a temple in Kunda in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh after the gates of the temple collapsed.

And in September 2008, 147 people were killed at a temple in Jodhpur in the northwest state of Rajasthan reportedly because of rumors a bomb had been planted in a temple complex. It later turned out that steep and slippery slopes and an inefficient response by officials had also contributed to the stampede.

Watch a video of the stampede Tuesday:

And the religious ceremony that preceded it:

By  |  09:48 AM ET, 11/08/2011

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