At least 27 pilgrims have died in a stampede on the banks of a holy river in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

The Hindu pilgrims had gathered to take a dip in the Godavari River at the start of the Maha Pushkaralu festival.

“The incident happened as the first set of worshippers were coming out of the river after taking a dip and then got in the way of others who wanted to be in the water at an auspicious time,” AFP news agency quoted a senior police official as saying.

Nearly 24 million pilgrims are expected to take part in the 12-day festival.

Pilgrims believe that taking a bath in the river will rid them of their sins.

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