At least three pilgrims were killed and dozens were left injured after a wall collapsed on Friday at a temple, where people had gathered to celebrate Janmashtami festival in Kachua area of 24 North Parganas district in West Bengal.
#NewsAlert – Four pilgrims killed and 27 injured in a stampede at Loknath temple at Kachua in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal last night. | @Sougata_Mukh with details. pic.twitter.com/EY9lvY4Rep
— News18 (@CNNnews18) August 23, 2019
The incident occurred around 2.15 am when pilgrims had assembled in massive numbers on account of Janmashtami celebrations that were planned in the temple premises.
Lakhs of people gather at the temple every year on this day to celebrate the birth anniversary of Baba Lokenath Brahmachari, an 18th century Bengali saint, who has followers in West Bengal and Bangladesh.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who rushed to National Medical College and Hospital, where the injured were admitted, told reporters, "There was a large crowd at Kachua Loknath temple this year. It started raining heavily in the wee hours and people tried to take shelter at makeshift bamboo stalls on the approach road to the temple. The bamboo structures collapsed after heavy rain."
"The place was narrow and in the rush, a few people fell into the pond beside the temple and this created a confusion leading to a stampede-like situation there."
She said senior ministers have been sent to Barasat Hospital, RG Kar Medical College and a hospital at Basirhat.
"I am personally monitoring the situation", Banerjee said.
The chief minister announced compensation of Rs five lakh to next of kin of those killed in the mishap, Rs 1 lakh to family members of the critically injured and Rs 50,000 for those with minor injuries.
"The mishap at Kachua is unfortunate and tragic. Occurred after heavy rain. I visited CNMC and SSKM hospitals to meet families of the deceased and injured. Every death is a tragedy. But what we can do is to stand by the families in their moment of grief," Banerjee tweeted.
A senior police officer told PTI, some pilgrims visiting the temple in Basirhat police district, had slipped due to slush caused by heavy rain and wind.
The police rescued them and took them to a health camp at Kachua and then to a primary health centre, he said.
"The situation was immediately brought under control," he said.
"Ten critically injured persons have been brought to Kolkata for better treatment. Three persons have succumbed to injuries and another three are in a very critical condition.
Five injured persons are in a hospital within Basirhat police station limits," he said.
The three dead have been identified as Aparna Sarkar, Tarun Mondal and Poornima Gorai, another senior officer of West Bengal Police said.
Meanwhile, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh criticised the state government for not setting up proper infrastructure to deal with the rush of pilgrims.
"There is no point in running from one hospital to another now.. why should the CM be going to hospitals... the state government should have had proper arrangements in place, keeping in mind the huge turnout on this occasion," Ghosh said.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Aug 23, 2019 16:02:59 IST