India Stampede for Free Clothes Kills 63

A senior local government official says that the death toll in a stampede at a temple in north India has risen to 63.

Ashok Kumar says dozens of people were also injured Thursday when thousands of people crowded into the compound of a temple in Kunda, a small town 112 miles southeast of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state.

Local police official Brij Lal says free clothes and utensils were being distributed at a religious function at the Ram Janki temple, which likely caused the stampede. As people jostled each other, a gate to the compound also fell, causing more injuries, he added.

The temple is located in a compound that belongs to Kripalu Maharaj, a popular local religious leader. Thousands were gathering at the temple to mark the anniversary of the death of the wife of the leader, Kripalu Maharaj, said Brij Lal, a senior local police official.

Deadly stampedes are a relatively common occurrence at temples in India, where large crowds - sometimes hundreds of thousands of people - congregate in small areas lacking facilities to control big gatherings.

In 2008, more than 145 people died in a stampede at a remote Hindu temple at the foothill of the Himalayas.

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