‘Many dead’ in India temple stampede

More than 50 pilgrims are feared dead in a stampede at a Hindu temple in central India, police have said.

Thousands had gathered at the Ratangarh temple, about 60km (37 miles) from Datia town in Madhya Pradesh state, for a religious festival.

Police say the stampede happened as pilgrims tried to cross a bridge on the Sindh river, near the shrine.

Most of the victims were killed in the stampede, while others drowned after jumping off the bridge, reports say.

Police said many more people were injured, and emergency crews were still searching the river for bodies.

Local official Sanket Bhondve told BBC Hindi that thousands of devotees had been visiting the Ratangarh temple.

He said the immediate priority was to provide relief to those injured.

Local police chief DK Arya told local media that the stampede was probably sparked by a rumour that the bridge could collapse.

Other reports suggested that police used batons to control the crowd.

The accident happened at about 09:00 (03:30 GMT), but information has been slow to emerge because the temple is in a remote area with erratic mobile-phone coverage.

Hindu festivals in India are notorious for deadly stampedes.

In the past year, dozens have died in three similar tragedies.

In 2011 more than 100 died at a festival in the southern state of Kerala.

Inside Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort, more than 220 people were killed in 2008 in a stampede at the Chamunda Devi Hindu temple.