CBNNews.com - NEW DELHI - Varying reports on the number of victims killed at a Hindu shrine in northern India Sunday range from 123 to 145.
Hindu pilgrims were attending a nine-day religious festival at the Naina Devi Temple in the Bilaspur district of the Himachal Pradesh state, 155 miles northeast of New Delhi, said district deputy police commissioner C.P. Verma.
"A lot of people were confined in a small area," Verma said.
According to police reports, a railing at the shrine collapsed, catapulting people down a narrow stairway, causing panic and a stampede.
At least 40 children were among the victims.
"As of now, we have 123 people dead, including more than 40 children," said a senior police officer.
India's Press Trust news agency reported that 145 people were killed and 50 injured.
Most of the victims died of suffocation.
Police were expecting some 50,000 daily worshippers, but on Sunday more arrived at the shrine, many from the neighboring Punjab state.
At the Naina Devi shrine, pilgrims pray to the Hindu goddess Nanda Devi.
A similar incident occurred in July at a Hindu festival in Orissa in eastern India. Six people were killed in Puri, when a million pilgrims gathered for an annual festival.
Sources: The Associated Press, AFP, Times Online