Mata Vaishno Devi shrine stampede: 12 dead, 20 injured; Yatra resumes after brief halt

Jammu: At least 12 people were killed and 20 others injured in a stampede at the famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir trigg...

Jammu: At least 12 people were killed and 20 others injured in a stampede at the famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir triggered by a heavy rush of devotees, officials said on Saturday.

The stampede occurred in the early hours of Saturday near gate number three outside the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine atop Trikuta hills, about 50 km from Jammu.

The stampede was triggered by a heavy rush of devotees who have come to pay their obeisance to mark the beginning of the New Year, the officials said.

Devotees usually trek to the hilltop shrine from the Katra base camp, a distance of nearly 13 km, while some reach there by helicopter.

The stampede occurred near gate number three outside the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine atop Trikuta hills.

The stampede was triggered by a heavy rush of devotees who have come to pay their obeisance to mark the beginning of the New Year, the officials said.

Senior officials and shrine board representatives are on the spot.

Officials said 12 people died in the stampede and their bodies have been removed to a hospital in the Katra base camp for identification and other legal formalities.

Twenty more people were injured and the majority of them are undergoing treatment at Mata Vaishno Devi Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, the officials said, adding that the condition of four of the injured was stated to be "critical".

The officials said the shrine was open and devotees were paying obeisance till last reports came in.

The incident occurred around 2:45 am, and as per initial reports, an argument broke out which resulted in people pushing each other, followed by a stampede.

A high-level inquiry has been ordered into the stampede which will be headed by Principal Secretary (Home) with ADGP, Jammu and Divisional Commissioner, Jammu as members.

Union Minister Jitendra Singh is rushing to Katra following the incident.

President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his anguish over the incident in a tweet.

"Extremely saddened by the loss of lives due to a stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan. Condolences to the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.

The Prime Minister's Office also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) to the next of kin of those who lost their lives due to the stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan and Rs 50,000 for the injured.

Union home minister Amit Shah also expressed condolences to the bereaved family.

"My condolences to the bereaved families in this sad hour. Praying for the speedy recovery of the injured," Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in a tweet.

"Deeply pained at the loss of lives due to stampede at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine", Lieutenant Governor of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, also expressed his condolences.

BJP chief JP Nadda also expressed his condolences over the stampede in Katra.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath also took to Twitter to express his grief.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted out his condolences to the bereaved families.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also expressed his condolences in a tweet.

According to ANI, an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the next of kin of those who died in the stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan in Katra and Rs 2 lakh for the injured was announced by LG Sinha.

However, the Vaishno Devi yatra resumed following a brief suspension after 12 people lost their lives in a stampede incident in Katra.

Following are the board helpline numbers of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine:
01991-234804
01991-234053

Here are other helpline numbers which may come in handy for those in need to get in touch with their friends and families:
PCR Katra 01991232010/ 9419145182
PCR Reasi 0199145076/ 9622856295
DC Office Reasi Control room
01991245763/ 9419839557

With inputs from PTI

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India World News: Mata Vaishno Devi shrine stampede: 12 dead, 20 injured; Yatra resumes after brief halt
Mata Vaishno Devi shrine stampede: 12 dead, 20 injured; Yatra resumes after brief halt
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