news Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 05:30
  At least twenty nine pilgrims were killed and sixty injured in a stampede during Godavari Pushkaralu in Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday, officials said. The death toll is expected to rise.  The tragedy occurred when a large number of pilgrims rushed towards one of the gates at Kotagummam pushkar ghat on the banks of Godavari river to take the holy dip. Though the main gate had not been opened, people tried to rush inside through one of the smaller gates. Chaos prevailed at all the three gates at the ghat in Rajahmundry, a town in East Godavari district. The bodies of victims, all women, were shifted to Rajahmundry government hospital. The injured were also brought to the hospital, where the condition of some of them is stated to be critical.   Tragedy struck couple of hours after Godavari pushkaralu began on Tuesday morning. Andhra Pradesh Chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has announced ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the kin of the deceased. Godavari Pushkaram, as it is also known as, is an Indian festival dedicated to worshiping rivers. It is celebrated at ghats along the banks of 12 sacred rivers in the country. Each river is associated with a zodiac sign and so every year the festival is celebrated on the banks of one of the rivers. The last Godavari Pushkaram was held in 2003. The festival will be a 12 day affair and over 7 crore people are expected to take a holy dip as part of the pushkar bath in the river. The 12-day pushkaralu, described as Kumbh mela of the south, began in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Deeply pained at the loss of lives due to stampede at Rajahmundry. My condolences to the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 14, 2015 I spoke to CM @ncbn & discussed the situation with him. The State Government is working to restore normalcy. — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 14, 2015 With IANS      

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