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Bangladesh Hindu Pilgrims Die in Stampede

At least 10 Hindu pilgrims have been killed in a stampede during a bathing ritual at a holy site in Narayanganj, Bangladesh, BBC reports.

Police inspector Nasir Ahmed told AFP news agency the crush had involved “huge numbers of people”.

The 16 quays used for the ritual bathing were unable to cope with so many devotees, police told bdnews 24.

The incident happened during the Astami Snan, one of the largest annual Hindu ceremonies in Bangladesh.

Around a million pilgrims from Bangladesh and surrounding countries travel to the area each year to wash in the Brahmaputra river at Langalband, 20km (12 miles) south of the capital, Dhaka.

Mr Ahmed said police were investigating what had gone wrong.

“The stampede involved a huge number of people as thousands of shoes could still be seen on the road an hour after it happened,” he added.

Police official Mohammad Jakaria told reporters the victims were seven women and three men, all aged over 50. Dozens are reported to have been injured.

Hindus in Bangladesh attend several riverside festivals during the course of the year.

Ritual bathing started early on Friday, reaching a peak at around the time of the accident, police told bdnews24.

Some of those attending said that there were not enough ambulances or police officers to ensure the safety of devotees.

However, officials say that at least 700 police officers were on duty but their task was made harder because the number of people attending the festival, which goes on until Saturday.

Numbers were higher this year as it took place during public holidays to celebrate Bangladesh’s national day.

“All of a sudden, I heard cries and saw people getting trampled,” survivor Laxmi Rana Saha told AFP. “I lost my nephew in the chaos. I only survived by running to higher ground.”

It is estimated that 8 per cent of Bangladesh’s population of 156 million people is Hindu.

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