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Stampede at India relief camp kills 43
Updated: 2005-12-18 13:49

Thousands of flood victims waiting in line for relief vouchers stampeded into a government-run distribution center Sunday in southern India, killing at least 43 people and injuring 30, police said.

Nearly 3,000 people were lined up before dawn Sunday along a narrow street leading to a school where they were to collect coupons for provisions when heavy rains began suddenly, C. Sylendra Babu, joint commissioner of police, told The Associated Press by phone.

When the gates opened, the crowd surged forward, causing the deadly crush, he said.

"We had posted several policemen at all relief centers expecting such commotion, but what happened here was beyond the power of all," said R. Nataraj, the city's police chief. The relief center is being operated out of a government-run school.

The center does not house the flood victims but only distributes aid.

The flood victims, whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by the recent downpours, had lined up to collect coupons that would have helped them get rice, kerosene and $22 in cash.

This was the second such incident in Madras, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, in the past two months. In November, six people were killed and 20 injured in another stampede near a relief camp in a northern district of Madras.

At least 430 people have been killed in Tamil Nadu and half a million left homeless by storms that have pounded the state since late October.

The state receives most of its annual rainfall from the northeast monsoon, which is often marked by cyclonic activity in the Bay of Bengal.

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