At Least 22 Dead, Over 30 Injured in Stampede Near Mumbai's Elphinstone Station
The stampede took place around 10.40 am when the overbridge linking the Elphinstone and Parel stations became overcrowded as people scurried to take shelter from a heavy downpour.
Passengers caught in a stampede at Elphinstone railway station's foot over bridge, in Mumbai, on Friday. (Image: PTI)
Mumbai: A rush hour stampede on the stairwell of a narrow footbridge linking Elphinstone and Parel railways stations in Mumbai left at least 22 people dead and more than 30 injured on Friday as onlookers watched victims stumbling, falling and piling up along the railings.
The tragedy took place around 10.40 am when the overbridge linking the two stations became overcrowded as people scurried to take shelter from a sudden heavy downpour. The bridge is used by lakhs of people every day to commute to the business district that has high-end corporate offices.
People were trapped on the stairs and the decades-old bridge was crammed so tight that several suffocated to death. As those on the platform below watched helplessly, many people attempted to escape by climbing over the railing. Many were seen trying desperately to stay upright in the onslaught of tumbling humanity.
While the officials have not disclosed the reason for the stampede and said a probe has been ordered, witnesses said that it was a tragedy waiting to happen as this is the only pedestrian bridge in the busy commercial area. “Trains were rolling in and some people wanted to get out of the station, but others were not making way. When a few tried, it led to a stampede,” Ashok Koteja, one of the injured, said.
Kishor Thakur, who has been travelling on the route for years and saw the stampede unfold before his eyes, said that commuters had written a letter to the railway ministry with a request to improve the shoddy state of affairs.
Two Shiv Sena MPs had also written to ex-railway minister Suresh Prabhu on the need for another pedestrian bridge two years ago, but work did not start. According to reports, an amount of Rs 117 crore was also sanctioned for the construction, but it kept being delayed.
The pile of footwear left behind was a mute testimony to the tragedy.
Condolences came in from President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A compensation of Rs 10 lakh was announced for kin of the deceased - Rs 5 lakh from Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and Rs 5 lakh from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The rain and a short circuit were amongst the reasons being attributed for the stampede. “The overbridge was overcrowded and due to rain it got slippery too. This caused panic and resulted in the stampede,” said Atul Shrivastav, inspector general of the Railway Protection Force. “Due to sudden rain, people waited at the station. When the rain stopped, there was chaos as people rushed out,” added railways spokesperson Anil Saxena.
Police also suspect that a short circuit with a loud sound near the FOB led to panic and people started running, resulting in the stampede.
Eight women and a young boy were amongst those killed, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) disaster management cell chief Mahesh Narvekar said, adding that five of the injured were critical.
The railways minister, who reached Mumbai this morning, cancelled his programme to inaugurate 100 additional suburban services in Mumbai and announced a high-level inquiry headed headed by Western Railway's chief safety officer.
Besides Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each of the deceased, he also announced Rs 1 lakh for the grievously injured and Rs 50,000 for those with minor injuries. “Situation in Mumbai is being continuously monitored. @PiyushGoyal is in Mumbai taking stock of the situation & ensuring all assistance,” Modi said in a tweet.
According to the BMC's disaster control room, 22 people were brought dead to the KEM Hospital in Parel.
Manish Mishra, a witness who helped some of the injured, said the situation was worsened as officials did not respond immediately, or take steps to control the crowd.
Emergency officials responded rapidly, state officials said, however. Officials of the railway, police and fire brigade rushed to the site to carry out rescue operations, western railway spokesperson spokesman Ravinder Bhakar said. “Though security personnel were deployed to regulate the crowd on the staircases of the platform, excessive crowd led to the unfortunate incident,” he added.
It was technically not a “rail-related” incident, but the victims would be compensated according to rules of the railways, he said.
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