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9 kids among 20 killed in Patna stampede

Abhay Kumar, PATNA:, Nov 19, 2012 DHNS 1:27 IST
 A woman mourns the death of a relative near dead bodies of Chhat Puja devotees in Patna Medical College & Hospital on Monday. Many people are feared dead after collapse of a temporary bamboo bridge on Ganga river in the city during the festival. PTI
At least 20 people, including nine children, were killed in a stampede after a makeshift wooden bridge near Adalat Ghat in Patna collapsed on Monday evening.

More than 100 people, who are reported to have sustained grievous injuries, have been rushed to various government and private hospitals in the state capital. Most of them were in critical condition.

Health Minister Ashwini Choubey, however, confirmed only 17 deaths. The mishap occurred when thousands of devotees were returning after offering obeisance to the “Sun God on the occasion of “Chhath,” one of the most revered festivals here.

The bridge was a temporary arrangement for the devotees to cross the (filthy) drain before reaching the Ganga, which, of late, has moved far away from the capital. The devotees have to take a holy dip into the Ganga before offering “arghya.”

Everything was fine till sunset, but there was a mad scramble among the devotees to return early. The bridge could not sustain the increasing load and eventually collapsed. Several women, children, elderly person fell over each other like a pack of cards. In the stampede that followed, many died on the spot while others collapsed while being rushed to Patna Medical College and Hospital.

Others were rushed to Rajendra Nagar Hospital and Magadh Hospital. Bihar DGP Abhayanand, who himself was performing Chhath at his residence, rushed to the site to take stock of the situation. Sources in the PMCH confirmed that nine children were among those dead, but added that the toll could go up once they collate more details.

The incident occurred soon after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi had finished their “steamer journey” which was aimed at “taking stock of the security arrangements at various ghats.”

“Nothing could be more tragic and unfortunate that the incident took place soon after the visit of Nitish and Modi to Ganga ghats,” senior Congress leader Prem Chandra Mishra told Deccan Herald here on Monday.

“The entire administration was caught unawares as it was busy looking after the itinerary of the chief minister, instead of facilities for the common man,” he added. The Rashtriya Janata Dal, too, slammed Nitish in no uncertain terms for the stampede and asked him to “take responsibility for the accident and quit.”

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