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Hyderabad: The 12-day-long ‘Godavari Pushkaralu’ began today in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. A stampede at the Pushkaralu ghat in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh has led to the death of at least 22 people with more causalities feared. More than 40 have been injured in the stampede.
Crores of devotees were expected to take part in the mega congregation for which elaborate arrangements have been put in place in both states. Police estimated the crowd swelled to more than one million on Tuesday. The government of the southern state expects some 40 million pilgrims
21:40 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
YSR Congress Party President Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday blamed Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu for the stampede and said that he should quit on moral grounds taking full responsibility for the incident.
“The Saraswathi ghat was reserved for VIPs but Chandrababu Naidu has opted to offer puja at the main Pushkar ghat and it was blocked for two-and-a-half hours for the devotees. When the barricades were removed, there was sudden surge as the devotees were waiting for long,” the Leader of Opposition alleged.
He said there was no need for Chandrababu Naidu to be at the Pushkar ghat, which is meant for general public, as separate arrangements were made at the Saraswathi ghat for the VIPs.
“For the sake of publicity or whatever, he opted to offer puja at the main ghat which is meant for general public. The ordering of a judicial inquiry is just an eye wash. You cannot bring the visiting devotees as witnesses. Chief Minister should own responsibility and quit,” he said.
19:02 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
CPI(M) demanded a probe into the stampede at Godavari Maha Pushkaram in Andhra Pradesh, alleging it occurred due to “inadequate” arrangements by the state government.
“The politburo expresses its sorrow at the deaths and injuries reported in the stampede. It is reported the death toll is rising. Politburo conveys its condolences to the bereaved families. It is unfortunate that although Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu called on lakhs of devotees to attend the festival, arrangements made by his government were totally inadequate, leading to this tragedy. It is necessary to set up an investigation so as to pinpoint responsibility and take appropriate measures,” the party said in a statement.
18:00 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
Rahul Gandhi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh pay condoloences on Twitter
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday expressed shock over the tragic stampede that occurred at the Pushkaralu ghat in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh. The official Twitter account of Rahul Gandhi’s office shared his message.
“Extremely sad to hear of the stampede in Rajahmundry that led to the death of several devotees.My deepest condolences to the families,” it posted.
“I hope adequate arrangements have been made to ensure the safety of all visiting pilgrims & devotees” it added.
Even Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh took to twitter to share his thoughts.
“Heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in stampede at Rajahmundry and pray for speedy recovery of the injured,” he said.
President Pranab Mukherjee also condoled the loss of lives in a stampede at the Pushkarulu Ghat of Godavari River in Rajahmundry district of Andhra Pradesh.
“I am saddened to learn about the stampede at the Pushkarulu Ghat of Godavari River in Rajahmundry District of Andhra Pradesh, where a number of devotees have lost their lives and many others are injured. I understand relief and rescue operations are currently underway,” President Mukherjee said in his message to Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L.
“I call upon the State Government and other authorities to provide all possible aid to the bereaved families, who have lost their near and dear ones as well as medical assistance to the injured,” he added.
“Please convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to the injured persons,” he further said.
17:17 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president Raghu Veera Reddy on Tuesday blamed Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu for the tragic Rajahmundry stampede and demanded a compensation of 25 lakhs to the families of all the victims.
“It is very unfortunate that more than 25 people have died and 50 people have got injured. I hold Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu responsible for this. Inspite of spending 1300 crores, hardy any preventive measures were taken. He himself claimed that he will be responsible for all the arrangements, ultimately this Pushkaralu landed with more than 25 deaths,” Reddy told ANI here.
Reddy said that 25000 people were made to wait for three hours due to the chief minister’s bath at the Saraswati Ghat.
“So, personally also he is responsible for this disaster and a very sad incident. We demand a compensation of 25 lakhs to all the victim families and they should take care of the people who are admitted in the hospital. We demand for an immediate inquiry and the chief minister should seek apology for his failure,” he added.
16:16 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
Congress member Chiranjeevi has blamed the Chief Minister for the incident. “This is a very unfortunate an incident. Chandrababu Naidu needs to resign from his position,” he said.
14:53 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
The Chief Minister has said that he will stay on at Rajahmundry till the situation is brought under control. He also shared emergency contact information
Here are the emergency numbers for Rajahmundry-
Governement HQ Hospital (Ambulance service): 91 – 883 – 2473022
Government Hospital: 91 – 883 – 2576027
Jagruthi Voluntary Blood Bank: 91 – 883 – 2443612
Police Station: 91 – 883 – 2471033, 91 – 883 – 2471133, 91 – 883 – 2471043, 91 – 883 – 2442933
A complete list of emergency phone numbers can be found here.
14:33 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
ANI reports that death toll has risen to 29. 40 others have reportedly been injured. The incident did not deter pilgrims, who continue to pour into the festival grounds, carrying children and luggage above their heads or perched atop cars stranded in the throng.
More than 15,000 police and 171 closed circuit television cameras were in place to monitor the flow of visitors to the festival, officials said.
14:32 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
CM Chadrababu Naidu met with those injured in the stampede.
13:52 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
According to a district official, the death toll from the stampede at Rajahmundry has risent to 27.
13:53 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday expressed her shock over the tragedy that occurred due to a stampede at the Pushkaralu ghat.
13:19 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
The Andhra Pradesh government has announced compensation of Rs. 10 lakh for the victims’ next of kin, ANI reports.
12:26 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
Chandrababu Naidu spoke about the tragedy and cautioned pilgrims to follow instructions-
12:21 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
The death toll has risen to 22. The exact number of the dead and their details remain unclear. According to a report by The Hindu, most of the victims are women, with one woman drowning in the river.
The report says that emergency workers from the 108 helpline could not make it to the venue in time to treat the victims. The ambulances were stuck in traffic.
Details of the deceased are not available yet. While some of the bodies have been lined outside the ghat, some were taken to a government hospital.
11:59 IST Tuesday, 14 July 2015
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to discuss the situation on ground.
Earlier today, Naidu, accompanied by his wife and son, took the holy dip here, where the Godavari river is full in its expanse. He offered prayers to the river and blew a conch shell to mark the beginning of the 12-day event. Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayandra Sarswathi also took the sacred bath.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao took the holy dip at Dharmapuri in Karimnagar district, kicking off the event in the state.
Andhra Pradesh government had made elaborate arrangements as it expected about 3.5 to 4 crore people to take part in the event. There are 263 bathing ghats in the East and West Godavari districts in coastal Andhra where the pilgrims take the holy dip while Telangana has 106 such ghats.
Telangana government, too, is taking every measure to ensure the smooth conduct of the festival. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao will take a holy dip in the river at Dharmapuri in Karimnagar district.
Similar to the ‘Kumbh melas’, celebrated by the banks of the holy rivers of India, ‘Pushkaralu’ is held every 12 years in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Taking a dip in Godavari river is the main feature of the festival. The event this year is special as it marks the ‘Maha Pushkaram’, which comes once in every 144 years.
“This is very significant from the astronomical point of view. The conjunction of ‘Brihaspati’ (Jupiter) entering into ‘Simha rasi’ (zodiac sign of Leo),” Advisor (Communications) to Andhra Pradesh government, Parakala Prabhakar, who heads a committee on ‘Pushkaram’, said earlier.
With agency inputs.