27 Die in India Stampede

27 Die in India Stampede27 Die in India Stampede

At least 27 people were killed and dozens injured on Tuesday in a stampede during a Hindu religious festival on a river bank in southern India.

The stampede occurred in Andhra Pradesh state as tens of thousands of people pushed forward to bathe in the Godavari River on the first day of the Pushkaralu festival, said Arun Kumar, a state administrator, AP reported.

The stampede was triggered by some pilgrims who were trying to retrieve their shoes, which had fallen off in the rush to the river bank, police said.

Kumar said the incident, which occurred in the town of Rajahmundry, happened not long after the 12-day bathing festival started in the early morning hours.

An additional 34 people were hospitalized with injuries, Kumar said.

With the bodies of victims lying around, relatives wailed and cried for help. Some pilgrims said ambulances took time to reach the site because the roads were overcrowded with people.

Officials said that a small place like Rajahmundry could not cope with the rush of hundreds of thousands of people, and that the situation became almost unmanageable.

Thousands of pilgrims, riding in buses, trains and other vehicles, started reaching the pilgrimage center two days ahead of the start of the festival.