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More than 60 killed in India temple stampede

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
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Deadly stampede in India
  • The incident occurred when the main gate of the temple came down
  • Among the dead were 37 children; the rest were women
  • At least 60 others were injured in the frenzy
  • Free utensils and food were being offered in a memorial service

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- As many as 63 people -- most of them children -- were killed Thursday when a stampede broke out at a temple offering free utensils and food in northern India, authorities said.

The incident occurred when the main gate of the temple in Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh state came down as worshippers rushed for their share of meals and kitchen vessels, according to police.

Other officials gave conflicting numbers for the death toll, saying 61 people had been killed. Among the dead were 37 children, said I.P. Singh, a deputy police superintendent of Pratapgarh. The rest were women, he added.

The temple, also a religious retreat belonging to a local holy man, was holding a memorial service in honor of a dead woman, state police official Brij Lal told CNN.

Video: India temple stampede
  • Uttar Pradesh
  • New Delhi
  • India

At least 60 others were injured in the frenzy, according to Singh. Authorities are investigating the incident.

Thursday's crush in Uttar Pradesh revived memories of a 2004 stampede in the same state that killed more than 20 women jostling to grab free saris offered at the birthday celebration of a local politician.

In India, religious events of different faiths are usually marked with ritual feasts. Large congregations often pack venues, which sometimes have limited infrastructure to hold massive crowds.