The tragedy took place at a bathing ghat at Rajahmundry during Maha Pushkaralu festival
Dinesh Akula | July 14, 2015 | Rajahmundry
Twenty nine people were dead and several injured after a stampede on the inaugural day of the Godavari Pushkaralu festival in Andhra Pradesh's Rajahmundry district on Tuesday. Devotees blamed administration failure for the stampede while police sources said that people rushed into the ghats minutes after the small gate was opened.
Officials have put the death toll at 29 while several others were injured.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandra Babu Naidu was present in the inauguration of the event on Tuesday early morning and is monitoring the situation. After the news about the tragedy broke out he rushed to the control room and instructed the officials to take control of the situation and provide immediate help to the people. He later visited the hospital and spoke to the injured and family members of the deceased.
Panic gripped after people started falling over each other minutes after a small gate was opened at the ghat. “Everyone wanted to rush through that gate into the ghats. No one wanted to wait for the main gates to open,” a police official informed adding that one senior police officer also sustained injuries in the stampede.
“Though the state government made elaborate arrangements, it failed to provide basic amenities,” said Raghavulu a trader who was present at the stampede site. “People had to go 2-3 km to drink water because of lack of drinking water facility,” says Pavan Rao who came from Visakhapatnam to participate in the event.
“Surprisingly, first aid facilities were also not available at the ghats, G.Murali,” a physician from Eluru said.
Godavari 'Pushkaram', the once in 144-year event dedicated to worshipping rivers in the two states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana began on Tuesday.
Pushkaralu festival is similar to the ‘Kumbh Mela and is observed once in 12 years. It was considered auspicious this year from astronomical point of view as it is Maha Pushkaralu which comes once in 144 years.
About 3.5 to 4 crore people are expected to take part in the 12-day festival. There are 263 bathing ghats in the East and West Godavari districts in coastal Andhra where the pilgrims take the holy dip while Telangana has 106 ghats.
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