DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A stampede killed 21 elderly women and four young people early Friday when hundreds of people in central Bangladesh stormed the home of a businessman for a charity handout during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, police said.
Another 30 people were injured and rushed to a hospital in Mymensingh, a town 115 kilometers (70 miles) north of the capital, Dhaka, said local police station chief Kamrul Islam.
The crowd gathered outside the tobacco businessman’s home around 4 a.m. and stormed in when the gates were opened to collect free clothing, Islam said. A 5-year-old child and three teenagers also died, he said. Survivors said about 1,000 people, mostly elderly women, were in front of the house, which is just beside the man’s tobacco factory.
Ambia Begum, 45, went with seven female relatives at dawn. One of them died in the stampede.
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“Oh Allah, why did I come here? Why?” she wailed as the body of her 60-year-old relative was retrieved.
The businessman distributes clothes every year ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of Ramadan.
Islam said the businessman, his son and six other people were detained and police filed a case that accuses them of killing the victims. The businessman did not request a police presence at his house for the distribution.
Eleven bodies were taken to a state-run hospital while relatives took away the rest of the dead bodies for burial, the police official said.
“We are visiting slums in the town to see whether more people died there,” Islam said. “Many people had come from villages.”
Stampedes are common at religious places and during charity handouts in South Asian countries.