Fourteen persons, most of them women and children, were killed today and scores of others injured as a makeshift brigde caved in triggering a stampede during Chhat Puja at Adalatganj ghat on the bank of river Ganges, a police official said.
The incident took place as the people ran helter and skelter, leading to the stampede. Fear-stricken people trampled on each other after the bridge collaped at around 1900 hours, Superintendent of Police (SP), City, Jayant Kant said.
Most of those killed and injured in the incident were women and children who were returning home after the Arghya at the ghat to the descending Sun God, he said.
The toll may rise as the condition of some of the injured persons was critical, the SP(City) said.
The bodies of those killed in the stampede have been sent for post mortem at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) at Patna, Kant said, adding the the injured persons have been taken to various hospitals for treatment.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced Rs. two lakh compensation to the next of kin of the victims, an official spokesman said.
Of the amount, Rs 1.5 lakh would be given by the disaster management department and Rs 50,000 from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.
The Principal Secretary (Disaster Management) has been asked to launch rescue and relief work on a war footing, he said.
Kumar has directed the Principal Secretary (Home) to probe the incident and told senior officials, including Chief Secretary A K Sinha and Director General of Police Abhayanand to reach the spot and supervise rescue and relief work, the spokesman said.
The Chief Minister asked the officials to ensure that the injured persons get the best medical assistance, he said.
State Congress president Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser and party spokesman H K Verma accused the Bihar government of constructing a sub-standard make-shift bridge ahead of the Chhath festival.
Demanding a CBI probe into the incident, they said the chief minister should resign on moral ground.
Local MP Shatrughan Sinha too demanded a high-level probe into the incident. The person or persons found guilty should be dealt with strictly, Sinha, BJP MP from Patna Sahib constituency, said.
Meanwhile, a Jamshedpur report said the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha demanded a high-level enquiry into the incident.
Describing the incident as unfortunate, JMM senior vice- president Sudhir Mahto said Bihar government should order a high-level enquiry into the incident and punish the officials responsible for it.
Mahto also demanded adequate compensation to the family of the victims.