A stampede at a Hindu temple in central India killed at least 10 people and injured scores early yesterday, the latest in a string of deadly accidents at mass religious events, officials said.
Hundreds of pilgrims gathered at a holy hill in Madhya Pradesh state for a ritual that involves rolling on the ground along the "path of worship" around the site, a state official said.
Rope barriers designed to contain the pilgrims appeared to have given way, sparking panic during the ritual at Chitrakoot in the state's east, the official said.
"Ten people were killed and over 60 are suspected to be injured in the stampede," said M.L. Meena, a senior state government official.
"During the parikrama [rolling], there was a situation of suffocation and then people started falling over each other and that's what triggered the whole thing," police Additional Superintendent Amit Saxena told the NDTV news network.
Television footage showed bodies of the victims placed side by side, with clothes, shoes and belongings scattered around. Tearful relatives were seen helping police carry the injured to waiting ambulances.
"The place is still very chaotic and crowded, but police and ambulances have reached the spot," local police control room official Vinay Kumar Singh said.
The devotees gathered on Kamadgiri hill, 520km from the state capital, Bhopal, for Somvati Amavasya, a new moon event to honour the deity Lord Shiva.
Pilgrims roll in a clockwise circle along the "path of worship" - a 5km circular stretch around the hill, which has a chain of temples along its base.