Portion of entrance gate at Mangarh ashramcollapses

Sixty-three people, all women and children, were killed and 64 injured in a stampede at an ashram at Mangarh in Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday.

The incident occurred when a portion of the entrance gate collapsed under the pressure of the surging crowd that thronged the ashram belonging to Kripalu Maharaj to collect food and utensils. The dead included 37 children and 26 women.

An official spokesman put the death toll at 61.

The function at the ashram, located 80 km from the district headquarters of Pratapgarh and about 200 km from here, was held to commemorate the death anniversary of Kripalu Maharaj's wife.

High-level probe

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident. The probe would be conducted by the Divisional Commissioner of Allahabad.

He was asked to submit his preliminary report within 24 hours after which the amount of compensation for the victims would be fixed.

Ms. Mayawati also sent PWD and Excise Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Panchayati Raj Minister Swami Prasad Maurya to Mangarh to supervise relief operations and treatment of people.

Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh told reporters here that the incident occurred around noon. The programme was to have begun at 2.30 p.m., but started earlier as the crowd entered the premises.

A portion of the entrance gate was opened, but the structure collapsed under the pressure mounted by the crowd. The dead were either crushed under the debris of the gate or killed in the ensuing stampede.

He said the injured were shifted to hospitals in Pratapgarh and Allahabad, and 39 of them were discharged after first aid. Two were referred to the Sarojini Naidu Medical College Hospital in Allahabad with serious injuries.

A team of doctors rushed to the site and ambulances from Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh and Allahabad were kept ready to take the injured to the hospital.


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