At least 109 people were today killed and over 100 injured in a stampede during Navratri festivities near a temple in Madhya Pradesh's Datia district triggered by rumours that a river bridge the devotees were crossing was about to collapse.
The state government ordered a judicial inquiry into the mishap which was a shocking re-run of the tragedy at the same site in 2006 when 50 pilgrims were washed away.
Datia district's Chief Medical Officer(CMO) R S Gupta said autopsies on 109 bodies were conducted till late tonight.
Police earlier said that 89 people, including 31 women and 17 children, were killed in the mishap.
"89 people were killed in the stampede on the bridge over Sindh river leading to the temple at Ratangarh, where lakhs of devotees had congregated, following rumours by some unidentified persons that it was collapsing," Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Chambal Range, D K Arya told PTI.
Arya while noting that the death toll could go up said over 100 people were also injured.
The festivities turned into a tragedy as the devotees from Datia and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh thronged the Durga temple to offer prayers on the occasion of Navratri at Ratangarh, about 60 km from district headquarters here and around 320 km away from the state capital Bhopal.
Unconfirmed reports said that the stampede took place as some people were trying to jump the queue and police used batons to control them.
Arya said nearly 100 people have been injured in the mishap and they have been rushed to nearby hospitals.
Heart-rending scenes were witnessed as anxious relatives searched for their loved ones from the large number of bodies that lay on the bridge.
The irate crowd, protesting over the incident, pelted stones and clashed with the cops following which police used mild lathicharge to disperse them.
Amid the chaos, police and local volunteers had a tough time to bring the situation under control.
A sub divisional police officer suffered serious injuries after being hit by stones, the DIG said, adding that some other policemen were also injured.
The situation has been brought under control, Arya said. The state government, with the approval of the State Election Commission in poll-bound MP, has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1.5 lakh to the kin of those killed in the stampede.
The government also announced an assistance of Rs 50,000 each to the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 each for those who suffered minor injuries in the mishap.
© Copyright PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of any PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.