Panicked stampede kills 17 at India religious festival

An unidentified Indian relative cries as he carries a body of a young boy who died in a stampede during Chhath Puja celebrations in Patna, India, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. AP Photo/Aftab Alam Siddiqui

PATNA, IndiaA power outage panicked crowds offering prayers on the Ganges River during a religious festival, sparking a stampede that killed nine children and eight other people, police in eastern India said Tuesday.

Hundreds of Hindu worshipers had gathered late Monday along the riverbank in Patna, Bihar state, to pray to the sun god during the Chhath festival, according to police Superintendent Jayant Kant.

Hindu devotees take part in worship on the banks of the River Ganges river during Chhath festival, an ancient Hindu festival, rituals are performed to thank the Sun God for sustaining life on earth, in Patna, India, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012.
Hindu devotees take part in worship on the banks of the River Ganges river during Chhath festival, an ancient Hindu festival, rituals are performed to thank the Sun God for sustaining life on earth, in Patna, India, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012.
AP Photo/Aftab Alam Siddiqui

People who had filled a makeshift bamboo walkway leading into the Ganges trampled one another as they fought to get to shore, he said.

About 20 people were rushed to the hospital and about six were in critical condition, he said.

Deadly stampedes are fairly common during India's often-chaotic religious festivals, which regularly include tens of thousands of worshippers. Nine people were killed in a September stampede during another festival in eastern India.

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