|Ranchi, Sep 24: At least nine devotees, including eight women, suffocated to death in a crowded prayer hall at an ashram in Jharkhand's Deoghar district today, police said.
Nearly 2.5 lakh people from Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand were gathered for Saint Thakur Anukul Chand's 125th birth anniversary celebrations when the tragedy occurred during early morning prayers.
"People were vying to catch a glimpse of the samadhi. More than 120 people fainted," a police official said over telephone. "They were taken to hospital, where nine died. All the dead were above 50 years."
Deoghar is located some 250 km from Ranchi.
Police said there were volunteers to manage the crowds in the hall but they failed to control the vast numbers.
"A probe has been ordered. The number of people allowed to gather at such occasions ought to be restricted.
"In this instance, volunteers from the ashram were managing the crowd in the premises. Police could only provide security outside the ashram," Deputy Commissioner of Police Rahul Purwar told the media. (IANS)