Stampede at Hindu religious event in India kills 121

The death toll from a stampede at a Hindu religious congregation in northern India has risen to 121, news agency ANI reports, as a police report says the number of people present was more than triple the permitted capacity.

The stampede on Tuesday was at the religious event in a village in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh state, about 200km southeast of New Delhi, where police had permitted 80,000 people to gather, according to the document, the first information report.

About 250,000 people attended the event, according to the police report reviewed by Reuters.

At least 121 people were killed and 28 were injured, ANI news agency reported on Wednesday, citing local officials.

The victims included 108 women and seven children, Manoj Kumar Singh, Uttar Pradesh state's chief secretary, told reporters.

The document described a scene of utter chaos when the preacher at the congregation, Surajpal, also known as "Bhole Baba", was leaving in his car.

Thousands of devotees shouted and ran towards the car, crushing others still sitting in the gathering, according to the document.

Some people also fell into an adjacent field of slush and mud and were trampled.

The event was organised by a group of devotees, local media said.

ANI news agency, in which Reuters has a minority stake, said police were trying to ascertain the whereabouts of the preacher.

The devotees at the event included Kamla, who said she had been attending the preacher's gatherings for two decades.

Women mourn next to the body of a relative
Officials say a stampede at a religious gathering has killed more than 120 people. (AP PHOTO)

"I went to attend Satsang (religious meet) with my 16-year-old daughter and a stampede broke out around two in the afternoon," she told ANI.

Although both of them were injured, her daughter died in hospital, she said.

Hathras district administrator Ashish Kumar suggested the disaster might have been "due to overcrowding at the time when people were trying to leave the venue".

Another senior state official, Chaitra V, told broadcaster India Today that people might have lost their footing as they sought water in the heat.

"There was wet mud at one place where people may have slipped," she said.

"Also because of the heat, people may have made their way to the spot where water was kept and that could have caused the incident as well."

Video clips recorded by news agency ANI showed bodies piled into the back of trucks and laid out in vehicles.

Purses and bags covered in dust were heaped up at the venue, with people sitting on their haunches sifting through them to identify their belongings.

Mud at scene of a stampede
Authorities say some of those killed in a stampede in India could have slipped in muddy conditions. (AP PHOTO)

Mobile phones were similarly piled together, waiting to be claimed by their owners.

A video on social media showed a large crowd packed into a tented area, standing and listening to devotional tunes as they waved their hands in the direction of the religious leader who sat on a stage.

It also showed some women hanging onto the bamboo poles holding up the canopy to get a better view above the heads of the large crowd.

Reuters could not immediately verify the social media images.

"There must have been about 50,000 people ... at the gate on the highway, some people were going left and some people were going right, the stampede was caused in that confusion," witness Suresh Chandra told local media.

Stampedes and other accidents involving large crowds at religious gatherings and pilgrimage sites have happened before and are often blamed on poor crowd management.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the federal government was assisting the state and announced a compensation of 200,000 rupees ($A3,600) to the families of the dead and 50,000 rupees to those injured.

Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous state with more than 200 million people.