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More than 100 killed in stampede

A stampede of pilgrims returning from one of India's most popular Hindu festivals has killed more than 100 people and injured 25 others.

The stampede was set off when a group of pilgrims in a Jeep drove into a crowd of worshippers walking along a narrow path in a hilly forest as they returned from offering prayers at the Sabarimala shrine in the southern state of Kerala, said local police official Sanjay Kumar.

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.

The annual two-month festival attracts millions of worshippers to the remote temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Ayyappan.

The ceremony 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 (PTI) reported.

Millions of devotees make the pilgrimage each year and nearly 2,000 police officers were deployed near the shrine to prevent such accidents from happening, PTI said. A small stampede last week killed one pilgrim, it added.

The difficulty in reaching the temple delayed relief operations, PTI said.

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