10 die at Hindu festival in India

Stampede breaks out at train station

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ALLAHABAD, India — At least 10 people were killed and a dozen more injured Sunday after a stampede broke out at a train station in the northern Indian town where millions of devout Hindus gathered for a religious festival, a senior government minister said.

Pawan Bansal, India's Railway Minister, told reporters that the stampede took place as massive crowds flooded the Allahabad train station on Sunday evening.

At least two television channels said as many as 20 people were feared dead and 30 others injured. News reports said the large crowds caused a section of a footbridge at the station to collapse, leading to the accident.

News reports said tens of thousands of people were at the train station at the time. Television footage showed large crowds pushing and jostling at the train station as policemen struggled to restore order.

"There was complete chaos. There was no doctor or ambulance for at least two hours after the accident," an eyewitness told NDTV news channel.

An estimated 30 million devotees were expected to take a dip at the Sangam, the confluence of three rivers — the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati — on Sunday, one of the holiest bathing days of the Kumbh Mela, or Pitcher Festival. The festival lasts 55 days and is one of the world's largest religious gatherings.

The auspicious bathing days are decided by the alignment of stars, and devout Hindus believe a dip in the sacred river on one of these days will wash away their sins and free them from the cycle of death and rebirth.

The festival brings together millions of devout worshipers and thousands of religious leaders.