18 Trampled to Death in Stampede After Bridge Collapses During Hindu Prayer Festival

PATNA, India (TheBlaze/AP) — A power outage panicked crowds offering prayers on the Ganges River during a religious festival, sparking a stampede that killed nine children and eight other people, police in eastern India said Tuesday.

The horrific incident occurred when hundreds of Hindu worshippers gathered late Monday along the riverbank in Patna, Bihar state, to pray to the sun god during the Chhath festival, according to police Superintendent Jayant Kant.

An unidentified Indian relative cries as he carries a body of a young boy who died in a stampede during Chhath Puja celebrations in Patna, India, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. A top Indian police official says 14 people have been killed in a stampede during a religious festival in the eastern state of Bihar. (AP Photo/Aftab Alam Siddiqui)

People who had filled a makeshift bamboo walkway leading into the Ganges trampled one another as they fought to get to shore, he said. About 20 people were rushed to the hospital and about six were in critical condition, he said. World News Australia has more:

India has launched an inquiry into a stampede that killed 18 women and children when a makeshift bridge collapsed at a Hindu festival, as devotees returned to pray at the scene of the tragedy.

The incident in the eastern city of Patna, near the holy Ganges river, occurred late on Monday…

Despite the disaster, thousands of worshippers returned to the site before sunrise on Tuesday to pray as part of the festival schedule, offering fruits to the gods, lighting candles and bathing in the sacred water.

Relatives of victims gathered at a mass cremation on the riverbank, with many survivors saying poor organisation of the event caused the stampede.

Deadly stampedes are fairly common during India’s often-chaotic religious festivals, which regularly include tens of thousands of worshippers. Nine people were killed in a September stampede during another festival in eastern India.