At least 89 pilgrims died and 100 were injured Sunday after a stampede near a Hindu temple in India's central state of Madhya Pradesh, dpa reported with reference to police.
The stampede occurred at a bridge near the Ratangarh temple in Datia district, where thousands were headed to offer prayers on the Hindu festival day of Dussehra.
"Panic broke out as crowds were crossing the bridge on the Sindh river to reach the shrine, situated on a hillock over a kilometre away. Seventeen children and 30 women were among the victims," regional police chief DK Arya said.
"Since 10 people are in a critical condition, the death toll is likely to rise to 100," he said in a telephone interview from the scene.
Arya said a group of youths who were tired of waiting spread a rumour that the bridge was on the verge of the collapse, resulting in panic, which led to the stampede.
The 500-metre-long bridge was built about three years ago and was structurally sound, he added. It is almost 7 metres wide.
Police said there were around 25,000 people on the bridge at the time of the accident. A total of 500,000 people had visited the temple all through Sunday.
Arya denied media reports that the stampede was caused after police used batons to control surging crowds.