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IDUKKI, India -- A stampede of pilgrims returning from one of India's most popular Hindu festivals killed more than 100 people and injured 25 others in southern India Friday night, police said.
The stampede was set off when a group of pilgrims in a jeep drove into a crowd of worshippers walking along a narrow path ina hilly forest as they returned from offering prayers at the Sabarimala shrine in the state of Kerala, said local police official Sanjay Kumar.
State officials said the death toll could rise.
"Sixty-four bodies have been recovered from the accident site. Seventy-five persons have been hospitalised with injuries. Most of them are in three hospitals," Kerala Home Minister Kodiuyeri Balakrishnan told AFP news agency.
The annual two-month festival attracts millions of worshippers to the remote temple to the Hindu deity Ayyappan. The ceremony Friday marked the end of the festival, and an estimated 150,000 devotees were thought to have taken the narrow path out of the densely forested hills where the stampede took place, the Press Trust of India reported.
Deadly stampedes are relatively common at temples in India, where large crowds -- sometimes hundreds of thousands of people -- gather in tiny areas with no safety measures or crowd control.
In March, 63 people were killed when poor villagers scrambled for free food and clothing being given away at a ceremony at a temple in Uttar Pradesh. In 2008, more than 145 people died in a stampede at a remote Hindu temple at the foothills of the Himalayas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.