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At least 18 persons, including women, were killed and hundreds injured in a stampede at a religious gathering in Varanasi on Saturday, police said.
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The stampede occurred at around 1.30 p.m. at the Rajghat bridge where thousands of people had turned up at a religious congregation organised by disciples of the late spiritual leader Jai Gurudev.
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Officials told IANS that 18 dead bodies have been recovered and that the number of injured may run into hundreds. "For now, we are focussing on relief and rescue operations and a probe will be ordered later to ascertain the exact cause of the tragedy," the official added.
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Uttar Pradesh Police's Additional Director of General (Law and Order) Daljit Choudhary confirmed the incident but declined to provide the toll.
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Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has sanctioned compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to kin of the deceased. Varanasi is also the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.