- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2013

A chaotic crush at an Indian railroad station killed at least 36 and injured dozens as tens of millions of pilgrims flock to the banks of the Ganges River for a large Hindu festival.

Authorities on Monday blamed unprecedented crowds for the stampede that occurred late Sunday in Allahabad, a city in Uttar Pradesh state that is hosting this year’s Kumbh Mela pilgrimage, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Authorities estimate that as many as 80 million pilgrims will attend this year’s event between Jan. 14 and March 10. They said about 15 million people visited Sunday, considered the holiest day of the festival, according to The Journal.

Deadly stampedes are fairly common during India’s often-chaotic religious festivals. During the Kumbh festival, platoons of policemen patrol the bathing areas to prevent crowding along the river banks in Allahabad, the Associated Press reports.

Pawan Kumar Bansal, India’s federal railways minister, announced Monday that the government will pay 100,000 rupees ($1,862) to the relatives of those who had died, The Journal reports.