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Temple stampede in central India kills at least 10

A stampede killed at least 10 people and injured more than 60 in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh early Monday (Aug 25) as pilgrims gathered at a temple, reports said.

NEW DELHI: A stampede killed at least 10 people and injured more than 60 in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Monday (Aug 25) as pilgrims gathered at a temple, an official said.

"A stampede broke out very early this morning, around 5.30 (8am, Singapore time) or so, where five women and five men have died," police control room official Vinay Kumar Singh said by phone. "The place is still very chaotic and crowded, but police and ambulances have reached the spot."

The stampede appeared to have occurred when some of the Hindu devotees were rolling on the ground as part of rituals performed on the hill for the full moon day of Somvati Amavasya to honour Lord Shiva, reports said.

The pilgrims had gathered at Kamtanath Pahad temple on Kamadgiri hill in Chitrakoot, about 520 kilometres from state capital Bhopal. Devotees roll in a clockwise circle on a "path of worship" around the hill, home to a chain of temples along its base.

"In this pose, the devotees circumambulate ... The relatives and friends of the devotees help them to roll around," police inspector general Pawan Srivastava told the Times of India website. "Some of the pilgrims who were walking fell on the ground during the circumambulation and this triggered panic."

Ropes set up to control the crowds gave way, with some 60 people also injured in the stampede, the official said. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan offered 200,000 rupees (S$4,100) to the families of those killed. India has a long history of deadly stampedes at religious festivals, as large numbers of people pack into congested areas, often with few safety regulations in place.

Monday's accident comes after some 115 devotees were crushed to death or drowned on a bridge near another Hindu temple in Madhya Pradesh last October. Hordes of pilgrims panicked after rumours that the bridge was going to collapse at the temple in the Datia district, some 700 kilometres west of Monday's accident site.

In 2006, another stampede outside that same temple in Datia killed 50 people as they crossed a river, prompting authorities to build the bridge. Some 102 Hindu devotees were killed in a stampede in January 2011 in the southern state of Kerala, while 224 pilgrims died in September 2008 as thousands of worshippers rushed to reach a 15th-century hill-top temple in Jodhpur in Rajasthan state.

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