India holy river stampede kills at least 27
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India holy river stampede kills at least 27

At least 22 people have been killed and more injured in a stampede during a Hindu religious bathing festival in southern India, according to reports.

Arun Kumar, a state administrator, says the stampede occurred in Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh state on Tuesday as tens of thousands of people pushed forward to bathe in the Godavari River during the Pushkaralu festival.

Police say the stampede was triggered by some pilgrims who were trying to retrieve their shoes, which had fallen off in the rush to the river bank, police said.

Rajahmundry is 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of Hyderabad, the joint capital of Andhra Pradesh and newly created Telangana state. Nearly 24 million people are expected to take part in the 12-day festival along the Godavari River flowing through the two states.

Festival participants believe a bath in the river can rid them of their sins.

Deadly stampedes are fairly common during Indian religious festivals, where large crowds gather in small areas with few safety or crowd control measures.

In October 2013, a stampede in Madhya Pradesh state in central India killed more than 110 people, mostly women and children.

Additional reporting from Associated Press