Puri,4 July:Six pilgrims, including three women, were killed and several injured in a stampede outside the Sri Jagannath temple in Puri during the annual Rathayatra festival on Friday.
The incident took place in front of the Lion’s Gate when the deities Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra were being taken out of the temple for a traditional procession.
As the idol of Subhadra was being taken out by the priests, women and children standing near the chariot were pushed from behind by those accompanying the deity and fell down, police said.
"We have received six bodies so far. All the victims are aged between 40 years to 50 years… They might have died due to stampede or suffocation," chief district medical officer, (Puri) Trilocan Baral said.
The death toll could rise as the condition of three injured who were rushed to the S C B Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack was reported to be serious.
The identity of the deceased is yet to be established.Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who was in the town to witness the festival, ordered an administrative inquiry into the incident.
"A member of the board of revenue will probe into the incident," he said.
An ex-gratia of Rs one lakh would be paid by the government to the families of each pilgrim who died in the stampede, he said.
He also visited the hospital where injured were admitted and instructed the district health authorities to immediately send the seriously injured persons to hospitals in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
The government would bear the cost of treatment of the injured, official sources said.Merriment marks Rath Yatra in Puri and elesewhere
The world famous chariot festival, Rath Yatra is being celebrated with thousands of devotees thronging at Puri Jagannath Temple to pull the three huge chariots carrying the Hindu Lords.
The festival falls on the second day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashadha.
On this day, thousands of people will pull the three huge chariots carrying Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra through the grand road of the city to the Gundicha Temple.
The three deities will enter the temple of their aunt on Saturday, and stay there for seven days.After the week-long stay, the three deities will return on the 12th of the month. This return journey is known as Bahuda Yatra.
The 131st Rathyatra of Lord Jagannath is also being held in Ahmedabad on Friday.This is one of the oldest in Gujarat and begins from Jamalpur. There are three separate chariots for the idols of Krishna, Balram and their sister Subhadra and all are colourfully adorned.
Tight security arrangements are in place for the event. courtesy: DD NEWS