BEIJING: Fourteen people, some of them children, were killed and 10 injured in a stampede during a gathering at a mosque in China’s Ningxia region, state media reported on Monday.
The stampede occurred at lunchtime on Sunday while traditional food was being handed out to people attending an event to commemorate a late religious leader, the official Xinhua news agency said citing the local government.
The injured were hospitalized, with four in critical condition, the report said.
One photo posted online by Chinese news outlets showed six bodies lying side-by-side inside a building, with several children in colorful outfits among the dead.
“Those poor children,” wrote one poster.
Another said: “Are Chinese people so poor, for all this to happen over a piece of pastry?”
Some Internet users displayed images of red candles online to commemorate those who died.
Other pictures posted online showed a large crowd, most of them men and many wearing white Islamic caps, standing outside the green mosque, apparently after the incident.
Clothes and shoes were scattered on the ground, along with what appeared to be a collapsed section of scaffolding.
An inquiry was under way into the cause of the stampede at the mosque in Xiji, around 280 kilometers (174 miles) south of the regional capital Yinchuan.
“The investigation is still underway. We have nothing to reveal,” a man at the Xiji county police surnamed Wang told Agence France-Presse.
Ningxia, in northern China, is home to the Chinese-speaking Hui minority, who are mostly Muslim but distinct from the Uighurs of Xinjiang.
According to government statistics, the semi-desert region’s six million Hui make up about 36 percent of its population, with Xiji one of the major Hui population centers.
Ningxia, on the upper reaches of the Yellow river, was the scene of a Muslim rebellion in the 19th century but has no recent history of ethnic tensions or other strife between the Hui and China’s Han majority.