12 dead in stampede at religious shrine in India


At least 12 people died and 13 were injured in a stampede at a religious shrine in the early hours of Saturday in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said.
“At least 12 people lost their lives and 13 are injured,” one senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“The toll could be higher as the route to the hilltop shrine was packed with devotees trying to do the customary new-year visit and prayers,” he said.
The Mata Vaishno Devi is one of the most revered Hindu shrines in northern India, with tens of thousands visiting to offer prayers every day.
Another disaster-management official confirmed the death toll, saying the stampede took place at about 2:45 am (2115 GMT).
“A high-level inquiry has been ordered by the government into the stampede incident at the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine,” he said.
“Extremely saddened by the loss of lives,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter, adding that he was in touch with local officials.
“Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon,” Modi said.