At least 18 people, including women and children, died Monday when a temporary platform collapsed during a Hindu religious festival in the northern state of Bihar, police told India's IANS news agency.

According to police officials questioned by Efe, the accident took place in the late afternoon on a stairway down to the Ganges River in Patna, where some 100,000 faithful had gathered to celebrated the feast of Chath in honor of the Hindu sun god Surya.

"Worshippers were taking part in the rituals on a temporary platform that collapsed under their weight," an officer told Efe by telephone from police headquarters in Patna.

The official said that among the dead were nine children and five women, adding that a dozen people who had been injured were taken to Patna Medical College hospital.

Crowd accidents are relatively frequent in India due to the massive gatherings that occur in the Asian giant, particularly during the constant religious festivals.

According to official data, 80.5 percent of India's 1.21 billion inhabitants profess the Hindu religion. EFE