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43 killed in stampede in an India relief center
Updated: 2005-12-18 15:12

NEW DELHI - Forty-three homeless people were trampled to death on Sunday and 42 were injured in a stampede during the distribution of flood relief supplies at a shelter in southern India, officials said.

The early morning incident occurred in Chennai, formerly known as Madras, when thousands of people had lined up for the relief supplies.

"Over 5,000 people rushed in as the gates of the shelter opened, causing the stampede," S. Chandramohan, top administrator of Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu state, told Reuters by telephone.

Police said the stampede took place when it began to rain during the distribution of supplies at the centre located in a government school building.

"People started rushing to safer places, leading to the stampede," they said.

Television channels showed chaotic scenes outside the relief centre with many women wailing as bodies were ferried in police vans and ambulances.

Chennai and many other parts of Tamil Nadu have been lashed by heavy rains in the past few weeks. Many coastal villages have been inundated, leaving thousands homeless.

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