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12 killed 17 injured in stampede at Hindu shrine on New Year's Day

Twelve people were crushed to death and 17 were injured in a New Year's Eve stampede at a shrine in India after an argument broke out in a crowd.

An investigation has been ordered into what caused the stampede at 2.40am this morning at the Mata Vaishnav Devi shrine in Kashmir.

Thousands of Hindu devotees had gathered to pay their respects in the hilly town of Katra, near southern Jammu city.

Seventeen people with 'serious injuries' were taken to Naraina Hospital after a rescue operation, while the victims were identified at another hospital in the Katra base camp.

Shocking footage showed several men clinging onto scaffolding as people scrambled to escape the stampede.

Mahesh, a devotee who gave only one name, said the stampede started near one of the gates where pilgrims entered and left the route to the shrine.

'Something happened near one of the gates and I found myself under a crush of people. I suffocated and fell but somehow managed to stand up,' he said.

'I saw people moving over the bodies. It was a horrifying sight, but I managed to help in rescuing some injured people.'

Another devotee named Priyansh said he and 10 friends from New Delhi arrived on Friday night to visit the shrine. He said two of his friends had died in the incident.

'I have never seen anything like this,' he said.

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