12 people have been reportedly crushed to death and 17 other left injured in a New Year’s Eve stampede at a hilltop shrine in India.
The unfortunate incident happened at around 2.40am as people gathered to celebrate New Year’s Eve at the famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Katra.
It was gathered from local reports that an argument broke out as the huge crowds got out of control, triggering a stampede.
Dilbag Singh, Jammu, and Kashmir Director General of Police, said there appeared to have been a “minor altercation” between a group of young boys before the stampede.
According to India TV, he said: “Police and officials of the civil administration were quick to respond, and the order within the crowd was immediately restored, but by that time, the damage had been done.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “extremely saddened” by the horror.
He said: “Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to a stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon.”
Mr. Modi also said the families of the victims and those injured in the stampede would be given compensation from the Prime Minister National Relief Fund.
An investigation is now underway by the shrine board representatives and senior officials.
The block medical officer of Community Health Centre, Gopal Dutt, said the wounded were transported to Naraina Hospital after a rescue operation.
Officials said the bodies of the victims, said to be from Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab, were taken to a hospital in the Katra base camp for identification.