Death toll in Indian stampede rises to 102

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 15, 2011 07:58

 
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KOCHI, India  — A stampede of pilgrims returning from one of India's most popular Hindu festivals killed at least 102 people and injured 44 others, officials said Saturday.

The stampede was set off Friday night when a group of pilgrims in a jeep drove into a crowd of worshipers walking along a narrow forest path as they returned from offering prayers at the hilltop Sabarimala shrine in the state of Kerala in southern India, said local police official Sanjay Kumar.

All the injured were hospitalized, some in serious condition, Kumar told The Associated Press.

"We have recovered 102 bodies. The rescue work is almost over," he said.

The area was flooded with pilgrims and the stampede occurred nearly 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of the temple site, Kumar said.

The annual two-month festival attracts millions of worshippers to the remote temple to the Hindu deity Ayyappan. The ceremony Friday marked the end of the festival, and an estimated 150,000 devotees were thought to have taken the narrow path out of the densely forested hills where the stampede took place, said Thomas Isaac, the state finance minister.

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