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Two killed in stampede in Puri Rathyatra

An injured woman being taken to hospital after a stampede during the Rath Yatra in Puri on Saturday.

An injured woman being taken to hospital after a stampede during the Rath Yatra in Puri on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Two women were killed and several others injured in separate incidences of minor stampedes during Lord Jagannath’s Rathyatra in this temple town on Saturday.

Two women died and several others injured in separate incidences of minor stampedes even as more than a million devotees converged at Grand Road in front of the 12th century Shree Jagannath Temple for Nabakalebara Rath Yatra here on Saturday.

The incident took place at Marichikote and Balagandi square along the road when three chariots were being towed towards Mausima Temple in the afternoon. Although identity of victims could not be ascertained, they were between 60-65 age group. One victim did not have any injury mark on her body. Two critically injured persons were rushed to SCB Medical College Hospital, Cuttack.

“We are ascertaining the cause of death. One of the victims seemed to have died of exhaustion. Another might have succumbed to injuries received during pushing and shoving,” said Sanjiv Marik, Director General of Police.

In another mishap, a devotee died by drowning while he was taking bath in sea near the beach.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed grief over the deaths and announced that government would bear medical expenses of injured ones.

The hot and humid condition that prevailed during the day had taken a toll on devotees who gathered to catch glimpse of deities here. More than 800 devotees were rushed to hospital in stretchers as they fell unconscious. All beds in major hospitals at Puri were filled with heatstroke patients. The administration had, however, made elaborate arrangements to sprinkle water on devotees.

Earlier in the day, the nine-day long Rath Yatra commenced smoothly with deities were installed in majestically decorated chariots before scheduled time. A few hundred priests performed a series of intricate rituals and huge wooden idols were taken out in a procession called ‘Pahandi’.

In a charged atmosphere, devotees were seen dancing and chanting of ‘Haribol’ and ‘Jai Jagannath’. While many were crying ecstatically, others continued to drop to ground frequently as a mark of their devotion to deities. To catch glimpses of deities, devotees had occupied every conceivable position along Grand Road.

Unprecedented security cover was thrown around holy town of Puri for Nabakalebara Festival. More than 10,000 security personnel were deployed and traffics were controlled along 100 km road leading to Puri from different directions.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 1:34:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/two-killed-in-stampede-during-lord-jagannaths-rathyatr/article7438343.ece

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