22 die in Mum­bai stam­pede

Tragedy at El­phin­stone Road sta­tion as peak­hour com­muters hud­dle on foot over­bridge to es­cape rain

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - NEWS - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Twenty-two peo­ple were killed and 35 oth­ers were in­jured af­ter a stam­pede broke out on a crowded pedes­trian bridge con­nect­ing two sta­tions in Mum­bai on Fri­day, one of the worst tragedies to hit the city’s teem­ing lo­cal train net­work.

It was un­clear what caused the stam­pede, with of­fi­cial and wit­ness ac­counts sug­gest­ing peo­ple may have pan­icked dur­ing the morn­ing rush af­ter believing there was a livewire or the bridge was about to fall.

“Some of the in­jured are in se­ri­ous con­di­tion,” Deepak Sawant, the health min­is­ter of Ma­ha­rash­tra, said at a hos­pi­tal where the in­jured were taken.

The bridge, which con­nects El­phin­stone and Parel sta­tions, is usu­ally crowded dur­ing rush hours but it was more so on Fri­day morn­ing af­ter peo­ple hud­dled to take cover from a sud­den down­pour. The stam­pede took place around 10:30am, when hun­dreds of peo­ple are on it at a time on most days.

“Com­muters started pan­ick­ing af­ter some­body shouted that the bridge was col­laps­ing and that there was a short cir­cuit. Peo­ple started push­ing and those in the mid­dle of the stairs fell. Many com­muters who tried to es­cape through the rail­ing got stuck,” said a man who was on the plat­form be­low.

El­phin­stone and Parel are two of four sta­tions that bring in lakhs of of­fice-go­ers from dif­fer­ent parts of Mum­bai and its out­skirts to Lower Parel, a com­mer­cial dis­trict that has grown rapidly. The sta­tions were built at least six decades ago, when the lo­cal­ity was mostly dot­ted with tex­tile mills, and have not been over­hauled to han­dle crowds that be­gan bal­loon­ing since the 1990s.

Hours af­ter Fri­day’s stam­pede, rail­way of­fi­cials sought bids for a new pedes­trian bridge at the El­phin­stone sta­tion, ac­cord­ing to news agency PTI.

“This ac­ci­dent will hope­fully be a wake-up call for the min­is­ter and his of­fi­cials. In­stead of fancy bul­let trains, they should first en­sure rail­way com­muters don’t die hor­ri­ble deaths like this be­cause of their neg­li­gence,” said Leena Shi­rod­kar, a Parel res­i­dent who com­mutes to And­heri ev­ery day for work.

Rail­way min­is­ter Piyush Goyal, who re­cently took charge, was coin­ci­den­tally on his way to Mum­bai when the stam­pede took place to take a lo­cal train to un­der­stand the prob­lems that the city’s 75 lakh train com­muters face. He or­dered a high-level probe and vis­ited the KEM hos­pi­tal, where the in­jured were taken. He also an­nounced that the El­phin­stone Road FOB will be ex­panded im­me­di­ately.

Chief min­is­ter Deven­dra Fad­navis an­nounced ~5 lakh com­pen­sa­tion for fam­i­lies of the de­ceased, and said all med­i­cal ex­penses of the in­jured will be borne by the Ma­ha­rash­tra gov­ern­ment.

The CM also promised that the state and the rail­way min­istry will con­duct an in­quiry into the in­ci­dent and take strict ac­tion.

Pres­i­dent Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi con­doled the deaths.

PTI

Com­muters caught in a stam­pede at Mum­bai’s El­phin­stone Road sta­tion's foot over­bridge on Fri­day.

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