india-temple-cp-142705

Relatives react outside Anandpur Sahib Civil Hospital in Himachal Pradesh, India, where the dead and injured of a temple stampede were taken Sunday. The devotees were attending a nine-day religious festival at the Naina Devi Temple. At least 145 people were killed when pilgrims stampeded at a mountaintop Hindu temple in northern India, police said. ((Jaspal Ghai/Associated Press))

A mass panic and stampede at a hilltop temple in northern India left 145 Hindu pilgrims dead and 37  injured on Sunday.

Sanjay Jha, reporting for the CBC from New Delhi, said the death toll is expected to rise. Scores of children are believed to be among the dead.

Tens of thousands were waiting to enter the Naina Devi Temple in Himachal Pradesh state when panic broke out at about 10:45 a.m. local time for reasons that remain unclear.

By some accounts, the stampede was sparked by rumours of a landslide, Jha said.

The Associated Press said many women and children were killed in a crush that sent worshippers plummeting to their deaths over a broken railing.

People near the temple might have been caught without room to move because the entrance is reached by a long queue flanked by barricades, Jha said.

Thirty-seven injured people were taken to hospitals and police have begun to recover the bodies of the dead, he said. Earlier reports said hundreds were injured.

In early July, six Hindu worshippers were killed in a stampede in eastern India. They were crushed as a crowd rushed toward a statue of a goddess, police said.

With files from the Associated Press