A stampede killed at least 18 people in Mumbai early Saturday when a large crowd gathered to pay their last respects to a Muslim spiritual leader, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Forty people were also injured in the incident which occurred shortly after 1:00 a.m. at the residence of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, who died at the age of 102 on Friday.

Indian TV stations showed tens of thousands of white-clad mourners thronging the streets of Malabar Hill, an upmarket neighborhood in south Mumbai. They reported that the stampede occurred when the crowds surged forward, with many people getting crushed in the narrow streets of the area.

It was unclear what triggered the stampede.

Buhranuddin, who was to celebrate his 103rd birthday in a few weeks, died of a heart attack at his home. He was a leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community, a sect of Shiite Islam.

The disaster comes just months after some 115 devotees were crushed to death or drowned in October near a Hindu temple in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

India has a long history of deadly stampedes at religious festivals, with at least 36 people trampled to death last February as pilgrims headed home from the Kumbh Mela religious festival on the banks of the river Ganges.

Police officers in Mumbai were not immediately available to confirm the reports.

 



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