At least four people were killed and about 20 others injured, two of them seriously, in a stampede at the Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa, on Saturday morning.
Puri Sadar Hospital sources said two devotees were brought dead, while, two others succumbed to their injuries in the hospital.
Out of the 25 odd devotees admitted to the hospital, two were in a critical condition, sources said.
Jagannath Temple Chief Administrator Suresh Mohapatra said there was an unprecedented rush of the devotees during the 'Mangal arati' of the presiding deities of the temple at 0700 hours both inside and out side the Jagamohan in the temple.
In a bid to witness the 'Mangal arati,' the devotees suddenly started rushing inside the Jagmohan of the temple and this led to a stampede inside the temple leading to the unfortunate incident.
Hospital sources said of the four bodies, three female bodies have been identified, whereas, the body of the male devotee was yet to be identified. The three deceased have been identified as mother of Dr B Nath from Sambalpur, Basanti Nayak from Amarda Road, Balasore and Sarojini Panda from Narendra Pada in Berhampur.
All the three deceased were above 60 years, hospital sources said.
The Jagannath Temple Management Committee had called for an emergency meeting on Saturday at 1700
Over a lakh of devotees, majority of them widows, thronged this holy city to observe the month long 'Kartik Puja,' which would conclude on Sunday on 'Kartik prunima'.
The temple had been witnessing unprecedented crowd for the last few days due to the 'Panchuk' rituals observed by the women on the concluding week of their month long fasting.
Mohapatra said adequate police arrangements were made both inside and outside the temple in view of the presence of large number of devotees in the temple since past three days.
The devotees, he said were allowed to enter only through the 'Singha Dwara,' lions gate of the temple, while the southern gate and the western gates were used as exit.
Temple sources said the rituals of the temple were not affected as none of the devotees died inside the temple. The situation inside the temple had been brought to normalcy after police swung into action and restricted the entry of the devotees into the temple.
Superintendent of police and other senior Police officials have rushed to the temple to monitor the situation.