'Most people died due to suffocation during stampede'

Patna: The toll in a stampede after the burning of the Ravana effigy at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna rose to 33 on Saturday after the death of a child, an official said.

“The condition of at least five seriously injured people is critical,” a Patna district  official said.

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad meets injured victims of the Dussehra function stampede in Patna on Saturday. Pic/PTI 

Thirty-two people, including women and children, had died in the stampede on Friday evening.

Bihar Police said 29 people are seriously injured and undergoing treatment at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) here.

Additional Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey said that he, along with Principal Home Secretary Amir Shubani, visited the spot to inquire into the cause of the stampede.

“We have formally began an inquiry into the cause of the stampede that resulted in the deaths of so many people, mostly women and children,” Pandey told reporters.

Pandey said police have been scanning the CCTV footage also.

Water Resources Minister Vijay Choudhary said the state government would take action against officials if they are found guilty. “Action would be initiated after the inquiry,” he said.

In view of the incident, Urban Development Minister Samrat Choudhary has cancelled his England visit.

Meanwhile, a group of angry citizens on Saturday protested at the Ramghulam square near Gandhi Maidan. They attacked and damaged half a dozen vehicles, forcing police to resort to lathi charge to disperse them.

Additional security forces have been deployed to deal with protestors. “Rapid Action Force and Bihar Military Police were deployed at Gandhi Maidan and nearby areas,” a police official said.

Health Minister Ramdhani Singh visited the PMCH and met the injured.

According to district officials, rumours that a live high tension wire had fallen to the ground led to the stampede.

Patna District Magistrate Manish Kumar Verma and Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj ruled out administrative lapses at a joint press meet here on Saturday.

“Most of the people died due to suffocation and breathlessness during stampede,” Verma said.

Both claimed that four gates of Gandhi Maidan were opened and there was adequate arrangement.

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