At least five persons died and more than 20 were injured in a stampede at a temple in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas at 2.15 am on Friday.Thousands of people gathered at the Baba Lokenath temple at Kachua under the Basirhat police station on the occasion of Janmashtami. Amid long spells of overnight rains, people tried to enter the temple and a boundary wall in the compound collapsed triggering the stampede.Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited two hospitals in Kolkata where the injured were admitted to.“The accident is unfortunate and tragic. Occurred after heavy rain. I visited CNMC and SSKM hospitals to meet families of the deceased and the injured. Every death is a tragedy. But what we can do is to stand by the families in their moment of grief,” she tweeted.Ms. Banerjee told journalists that the accident had occurred when people tried to take shelter inside the temple because of the rain. She announced compensation to the families of the deceased and said medical expenses for the injured would be borne by the government. She also blamed the illegal makeshift shops that had come up around the temple for the congestion leading to the stampede.Three of the deceased were women. Except one man, all the deceased were elderly persons. The identity of an elderly man had not been ascertained so far. Aparna Sarkar and Tarun Mondal, both residents of Basirhat, were declared dead at the Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital while Poornima Gorai was declared dead at the R G Kar Medical College and Hospital. At the SSKM Hospital and Medical College Sonaika Das, a resident of Basirhat and the unidentified man were declared dead.Lakhs of devotees gather at the temple every year on this day to celebrate the birth anniversary of Baba Lokenath, an 18th century saint, who has followers in West Bengal and Bangladesh. State Food and Supplies Minister and district president of the Trinamool Congress Jyotipriyo Mullick said the temple authorities did not provide correct figures of the crowd to the district and police authorities. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh blamed the lack of proper planning and lack of infrastructure to deal with such a huge rush of pilgrims for the stampede.
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