At least one person died while eight other were injured, of which four are in serious condition, in a stampede in Cuttack district on the occasion of Makar Mela on Saturday, the police said.
The untoward incident happened on the Badamba-Gopinathpur T-bridge where a large number of devotees had gathered for Makar Mela. The devotees were crossing the bridge to visit a fair and also to pay obeisance to Lord Singhanath near the bridge.
Local MLA Debi Prasad Mishra confirmed that a 45-year-old woman named Anjana Swain died in the stampede, while four seriously injured persosn were admitted to the SCB Medical College Hospital in Cuttack city.
The other injured persons were admitted to the nearby community health centre (CHC) in Badamba, he said.
Speaking to reporters following the incident, Athagarh sub-collector Hemanta Kumar Swain said an un-expected number of devotees were visiting the shrine Lord Singhanath. The number of devotees swelled this time since the festival was allowed after a gap of two years owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Devotees from Cuttack and nearby districts such as Khordha, Puri, Angul, Dhenkanal, Boudh and Nayagarh districts had come to the temple in large numbers.
Meanwhile, the locals alleged that the administration was not fully equipped to manage such a large number of devotees. Adequate number of police personnel were not put in place, they alleged.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed grief over the incident and announced ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the family of the deceased.
The Chief Minister also instructed the concerned officials to provide free treatment to all the injured persons.