Six devotees die in stampede at Bengal Sagar Mela

Six devotees die in stampede at Bengal Sagar Mela

 Six devotees at Sagar Islands in West Bengal were killed in a stampede during the annual Ganga Sagar Mela on Sunday.

The deceased, all elderly women aged between 65 and 72, were killed after being trampled by hundreds of other who made a mad rush to board a vessel on their way back to Kolkata. About 25 people were injured in the commotion. The victims are yet to be identified.

According to authorities, most of the devotees came from Bihar and were returning home after taking the customary holy dip on Makar Sankranti, which fell on Saturday.

They were part of the three-day annual fair that takes place around Kapil Muni’s ashram on Sagar Islands in South 24 Parganas district, the site for a massive congregation.
“The victims were rushed to a temporary hospital nearby but were declared dead on arrival. According to doctors, they were suffocated and suffered heart attack. The stampede occurred after pilgrims got impatient standing in the long queue at
Kachuebria’s jetty 5 and tried to overtake each other while boarding,” state Sunderbans development minister, Manturam Pakhira, told reporters.

Senior police officers on duty reported that the incident occurred around 6 pm when a large number of pilgrims had gathered at the jetty to catch a boat on their way back to Kolkata from where they were to board trains for respective destinations.

“Disaster management teams have launched a search-and-rescue operation with help from the Coast Guard,” a senior police officer said. Besides 20 vessels of various capacities, a state police drone was also deployed for aerial survey.

While the state administration announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for each victim, no official statement was issued till late evening.

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