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India: Stampede During Chhath Puja Festival On The Ganges River Kills 17

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An unidentified Indian relative cries as he carries a body of a young boy who died in a stampede during Chhath Puja celebrations in Patna, India, on Nov. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Aftab Alam Siddiqui) | AP

PATNA, India -- A power outage panicked crowds offering prayers on the Ganges River during a religious festival, sparking a stampede that killed nine children and eight other people, police in eastern India said Tuesday.

Hundreds of Hindu worshippers had gathered late Monday along the riverbank in Patna, Bihar state, to pray to the sun god during the Chhath festival, according to police Superintendent Jayant Kant.

People who had filled a makeshift bamboo walkway leading into the Ganges trampled one another as they fought to get to shore, he said.

About 20 people were rushed to the hospital and about six were in critical condition, he said.

Deadly stampedes are fairly common during India's often-chaotic religious festivals, which regularly include tens of thousands of worshippers. Nine people were killed in a September stampede during another festival in eastern India.

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