Patna: At least 33 people, including women and children, died in a stampede Friday evening after the burning of the Ravana effigy at the Gandhi Maidan here, officials said.
"Thirty-two people including women and children died due to stampede after the 'Ravan vadh' and 18 people were seriously injured," Bihar Director General of Police P.K. Thakur told media persons here.
Additional Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey said that the cause of the stampede is not yet known. "It is a matter of investigation," Pandey told IANS over phone.
He however, downplayed allegations of mismanagement at the event in view of the huge crowd.
"This year, the arrangement was better than last time. But this unfortunate incident took place and it is to be investigated," he said.
Local police officers, however, said that some people tried to disperse as fast as possible after the end of the event, thus creating the problem.
Patna District Magistrate Manish Kumar Verma said that authorities are trying to save the lives of all those seriously injured, who have been admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital.
The state government has announced compensation of Rs.3 lakh each to the kin of all the victims. It has also ordered a probe into the incident.
"The government has asked Home Secretary Amir Subhani and ADG Pandey to investigate into the incident, particularly the cause of the stampede," said an official in the chief minister's office.
Earlier, reports said that half a dozen people had fainted at the event due to over-crowding at the Gandhi Maidan.
However, the Durga Puja perriod which culminates with the Dussehra festival ended peacefully despite an intelligence alert of terrorists' threat in the state during the festival. "No reports of any untoward incidents during the festival across the state," said an officer at the police headquarters here.