Mumbai: At least 22 persons were killed and over 30 injured in a rush hour stampede on a narrow foot overbridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations during heavy rain on Friday morning, officials said.
The tragedy took place around 10.40am when the overbridge, used by lakhs of people to commute to the commercial area with high-end corporate and media offices, was heavily crowded, a police official said.
Images of people trapped on the stairs and the narrow decades-old bridge did the rounds of social media. Videos from those on the platform watching helplessly as the tragedy unfolded, with some attempting to make a perilous escape by climbing over the railing, were also circulated. As condolences came in from President Ram Nath Kovind, vice president M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, officials started looking into the reasons for the tragedy.
“The FOB of Elphinstone station 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 sta-tion. 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 among those killed, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) disaster management cell chief Mahesh Narvekar said, adding that five of the injured were critical.
Soon after the stampede, an accident relief medical equipment train rushed to the spot and medical assistance was provided to the victims, a railway official said.
“Have ordered a high level enquiry headed by the chief safety officer, Western Railways,” the Railways minister Piyush Goyal tweeted. “I feel sad for these families and such a thing happening in my Mumbai is matter of grave concern. We are committed to avoid any recurrence of any such incidents,” he told reporters.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is in Singapore for an investor interaction, added in a tweet that an inquiry would be conducted by the Maharashtra government and the ministry of railways and necessary strict action would be taken. The medical expenses of the injured would be borne by the state government, he added.