Twenty-two people including a child were killed and over 35 persons suffered severe injuries in a rush-hour stampede caused after rumours of British-era bridge collapse broke out in Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai on Friday morning.
“Prima facie rumours like falling of FOB led people to panic, leading to tremendous push from behind towards exit leading to stampede. There was no structural damage to the FOB (foot over bridge) which can be attributed to the stampede,” said Western Railways.
The stampede took place around 10:30 am on the British-era made small bridge connecting Elphinstone Road station and Parel station. According to the Western Railways the bridge is five meters wide and 32 meters long having dual exits.
"The overbridge 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.
According to an eyewitnesses, four trains rolled in at the same time. The bridge suddenly got overcrowded as hundreds had taken shelter to evade rains and hundred others were trying to make their way out or in through the decade old bridge.
“Bridge-breaking rumour broke out after a loud banging sound, which started the chaos,” said a witness who survived the stampede.
He added people were trapped and crammed tightly on the bridge that many suffocated to death.
In the videos and photos clicked by commuters watching helplessly from the station platforms one can see people trying to stand upright and many trying to escape by climbing over the bridge railing.
Several videos showed commuters were seen carrying bodies down the bridge or trying to revive the unconscious.
A survivor, who identified herself as Shruti Lokre said, “The crowd was increasing ...We couldn't breathe, we were falling on each other, there was panic. There was no exit. There was also a rumour that the bridge is falling, the bridge is breaking."
An Accidental Death Report (ADR) under sec 174 of CRPC has been registered at Dadar Police station. The police are investigating reports that a short-circuit caused a loud sound near the bridge and led to panic and chaos.
The Indian Railway and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal announced Rs 5 lakh each for the deceased’s relatives.
The oppositions across different party lines have demanded resignation of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.
(With PTI inputs)