The death toll is likely to increase as some people are still stated to be trapped under the bridge. Due to the stampede, rescue operations were delayed by almost an hour.
Late in the evening, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ordered an inquiry to be conducted by the state Home Secretary and announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased.
The incident took place at around 6.30 pm when thousands of Chhath puja devotees and their family members from central Patna were returning homes after offering the evening arghya.
Patna City SP Jayant Kant confirmed 14 deaths but said the toll could rise as the rescue and relief operations are on. “The incident took place after electricity went off for a while. As there was a heavy rush to cross the bridge, the bamboo structure gave way. The dead included eight women and six children,” he said.
Sources in the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), however, put the death toll at 19.
The SP said the stampede followed after the bridge collapsed. “It is difficult to ascertain if some people died in the stampede as well. The injured are being treated at PMCH and about half a dozen at private nursing homes.”
Bihar DGP Abhayanand, who rushed to the spot, said a large number of policemen have been deployed for relief and rescue operations and local divers have being pressed into to fish out bodies and take the injured ashore.
Over two dozen ghats along the Ganga are being used by over 10 lakh people on the occasion of Chhath puja which ends on Tuesday.