Seven people were killed and around 90 others injured when heavy rains accompanied by lightning and squall flattened and uprooted makeshifts tents of pilgrims in and around the site of ongoing Simhatha Kumbh Mela on Thursday evening.
The Simhastha Kumbh Mela takes place once every twelve years and attracts millions of devotees.
The stampede took place after heavy rains uprooted pandals at the Kumbh Mela. An official said that the death toll could rise, as several persons have been injured, CNN-News18 reported. The condition of those injured was not immediately known.
An official also said that many people were feared trapped under the collapsed tents, as reported by Catch News.
However, Kumbh Mela authorities have denied that the deaths were caused by a stampede.
According to police official B S Chauhan, nearly a third of the tents put up by the pilgrims were blown away in the squall. It will take at least a week to erect them again, he said.
The month-long Mela commenced from 22 April and will end on 21 May with the last Shahi Snan (royal bath).
Chintamani Malviya, the BJP MP from Ujjain said that while, strong tents were erected, they were uprooted because of the wind and an unexpected storm.
While the administration was worried about the possibility of stampedes on 22 April, 9 May and 21 May, when the ‘shahi snan’ ceremony was to take place, the sudden rainfall on Thursday appears to have caught the authorities unaware.
Chouhan would visit Ujjain on Friday to take stock of the situation.
He tweeted that rescue teams, officials and public representatives have reached the spot and that they will take care of the pilgrims.
According to eye witnesses, a big drainage suffered a breach on Ramghat on the banks of Kshipra river as a result of which filthy water is gushing into the river.
The state government has spent more than Rs 3,600 crore for developing infrastructure and facilities for the month-long congregation.
With inputs from PTI