At least 12 people were killed and over a dozen injured in a stampede at the Hindu temple in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir region on Saturday, police said.
The stampede occurred near the gate three of Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu province due to the heavy rush of devotees who came to pay their obeisance to mark the beginning of the New Year, according to administrative officials.
Senior police officer Mukesh Singh confirmed the death toll, adding that 14 people were also injured in the incident.
The Vaishno Devi Temple is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Vaishno Devi (Goddess Durga) located in the Katra region at the Trikuta Mountains.
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday expressed distress over the incident and offered sympathies to the bereaved families.
They wished speedy recovery to the injured while Modi said he is personally monitoring the situation.
Meantime, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday said a high-level inquiry was ordered into the stampede.