Mumbai Stampede: As Death Toll Rises to 22, Goyal Orders High-Level Inquiry

Police currently believe that the short-circuiting of an electronics box near the foot-over-bridge may have caused panic, setting off the stampede.

Policemen inspect the site of a deadly stampede at Parel and Elphinstone Road stations in Mumbai. Credit: Reuters

Policemen inspect the site of a deadly stampede at Parel and Elphinstone Road stations in Mumbai. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: At least 22 persons were killed and over 30 injured in a rush hour stampede on a narrow foot overbridge (FOB) linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations during heavy rain on Friday morning, officials said

The tragedy took place around 10.40 am (IST) when the FOB (foot-over-bridge), 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 are currently making the rounds on social media. Videos circulating show those on the platform watching helplessly as the tragedy unfolded, with some attempting to make a perilous escape by climbing over the railing.

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 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

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, who reached Mumbai this morning, cancelled his programme to inaugurate 100 additional suburban services in Mumbai and announced a high-level inquiry

Goyal announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each of the deceased, Rs 1 lakh for the grievously injured and Rs 50,000 for those with minor injuries

The Maharashtra government also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of those killed. According to the BMC’s disaster control room, 22 people were brought dead to the KEM Hospital in Parel

The injured persons were taken to various hospitals, an official said. Officials of the railway, police and fire brigade rushed to the site to carry out rescue operation

“… it seems that during heavy rain, unexpected crowd (of passengers) gathered on the north foot overbridge that connects Elphinstone Road and Parel stations,” WR’s Chief Public Relations Officer 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

According to Bhakar, it was technically not a “rail- related” incident, but the victims would be compensated according to rules of the railways

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 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