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Stampede for sarees kills at least 21 Indian women
Updated: 2004-04-12 20:43

At least 21 women were killed in a stampede in northern India on Monday when officials began giving out free sarees to celebrate a politician's birthday, officials and police said.

Hundreds of people had gathered in a park in the town of Lucknow for the birthday celebrations when officials announced the sarees would be given away.

"There was a sudden rush towards where the sarees were kept," said district magistrate Aradhana Shukla, adding that at least 21 people were killed. Police said the victims were all women.

The state politician celebrating the birthday, Lalji Tandon of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, had left the park by the time the stampede occurred, television stations reported.

Zee TV said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who is contesting this month's national elections from Lucknow, planned to fly to his constituency to meet victims' families.

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