[Representational Image]IANS

At least six people died while 15 were injured in a stampede that occurred at a jetty at the Gangasagar Mela (fair) in West Bengal on Sunday (January 15). All the deceased are elderly women and not identified yet. The death toll is expected to rise.

The tragedy took place around 6 pm during a rush to catch a boat for Kolkata from jetty No. 5 at Kachuberia in South 24 Parganas district of the state. More than a million devotees had gathered at Kapil Muni's ashram in Gangasagar in the Sunderbans area on Sunday. The six women who died in the stampede were among the devotees who were trying to board the boat after taking the holy dip.

"Six aged women died at Kachuberia temporary hospital due to heart attack. They had fallen senseless due to suffocation. The mishap occurred as the pilgrims got impatient due to the long queue at jetty number five in Kachuberi and tried to outdo each other in boarding a vessel," ," Manturam Pakhira, state Sundarbans development minister, told IANS.

At least 10 people have been hospitalised, ANI reported.

Officials said divers were deployed to confirm whether anybody had fallen into the river during the stampede, the Indian Express reported.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the incident. The Prime Minister's Office on Twitter announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the stampede.

West Bengal Public Health Engineering and Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee said 16 lakh pilgrims took holy dips in two days at the Gangasagar fair which is held every year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.