Hathras (UP), Jul 2: Over 50 people were killed and several injured in a stampede at a religious congregation here on Tuesday, officials said.

Devotees suffocated to their deaths and bodies piled atop each other in the stampede – among the biggest such tragedies in recent years - that took place at a 'satsang' in the district's Phulrai village.

Many bodies were brought to neighboring Etah district. "Twenty-seven bodies have arrived in Etah hospital. Among those killed are 23 women, three children and a man." Senior Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar Singh said initially. But updates put the toll much higher.

Based on hospital accounts, a district official said 50 to 60 people were killed. Unconfirmed reports said the toll was even higher.

Victims, dead or unconscious, were brought to the Sikandara Rao Trauma Centre in trucks and ‘tempos'. The bodies lay outside the health centre as people milled around them.

One video clip showed a woman crying, sitting among five or six bodies in a truck. Another showed a man and a woman lying lifeless in another vehicle.

Eyewitness Shakuntala Devi told PTI Videos that the stampede took place while people were leaving the venue at the end of the 'satsang', which was a day-long affair. People fell atop each other, she said, and then bodies were pulled out.

According to Sikandra Rao sub divisional magistrate Ravendra Kumar, the stampede took place when devotees tried to get a glimpse of the Bhole Baba, who conducted the 'satsang', at the end of the event.

They also wanted to collect some soil from around the baba's feet, he told PTI.

Sikandra Rao police station SHO Ashish Kumar blamed “overcrowding” at Bhole Baba's satsang.

Agra's additional director general of police and Aligarh divisional commissioner are part of a team that would probe in the incident, the state government said.

Speaking in Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths. On social media, President Droupadi Murmu said the news was heart-rending. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge expressed sadness.

An FIR will be registered against the organisers of the event, a state government statement said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed condolences to the families of those killed, and announced an ex gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakh each gratia for the families of the dead and Rs 50,000 for the injured.

Adityanath said Uttar Pradesh ministers Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary and Sandeep Singh were headed for Hathras. The chief secretary and the state police chief too were directed to reach the spot. PTI