CRUSHED BY THE RU­MOUR MILL

The stam­pede at El­phin­stone Road sta­tion that killed 22 and in­jured 39, was sparked by ru­mours of a short cir­cuit and the FOB col­laps­ing

Mid Day - - #DEATHTRAP - TEAM MID-DAY mailbag@mid-day.com

‘We just did not know what to do. The trains kept com­ing, more peo­ple kept adding on to the crowd’ Gan­gad­har Man­dala, an eye­wit­ness

AN un­ex­pected spell of rain and a slew of ru­mours — that’s all it took to turn El­phin­stone sta­tion into a death trap yes­ter­day, after a stam­pede broke out on the foot over­bridge (FOB), killing 22 and leav­ing 39 in­jured.

The mishap took place be­tween 10.20 and 10.30 am. The bridge is used by com­muters from both Parel and El­phin­stone Road sta­tions. Lo­cals said that it was more crowded than usual due to peo­ple vis­it­ing Dadar flower mar­ket for Dussehra. They thronged the FOB at the northend — the same side used by hun­dreds of peo­ple head­ing to work in nearby cor­po­rate tow­ers.

Dis­as­ter rains down

The nar­row stair­case can hardly ac­com­mo­date four peo­ple across its 6.7-ft width, but yes­ter­day, there were hun­dreds there. Things got worse when a sur­prise shower be­gan, send­ing more peo­ple scur­ry­ing to the FOB. This bur­geon­ing sea of peo­ple was crammed all the way till the ticket counter.

What sparked panic among the com­muters were ru­mours of a short cir­cuit, after the over­head wires flashed while a local train was pass­ing by. Peo­ple be­gan shov­ing and shout­ing. Sud­denly, there were ru­mours that the FOB was col­laps­ing too. Pan­icked com­muters gave a tremen­dous push from the up­per side of the bridge. As the bridge was slip­pery due to the rains, peo­ple who were car­ry­ing cargo from the whole­sale gar­ment and the flower mar­kets, slipped and fell. But the crowd kept push­ing and fall­ing over them.

Lo­cals re­call the hor­ror

SR Tri­pathi, who lives in a build­ing right next to the sta­tion, said, “It’s not un­usual for us to hear loud noises. But to­day, there was too much noise. We came out on our bal­conies and saw peo­ple fall­ing on each other. I im­me­di­ately rushed down and tried to help them.”

Iron­i­cally, when news of the mishap spread, many thought it was a ru­mour. When mid-day called the dis­as­ter man­age­ment cell at 11 am, an of­fi­cial said that they had re­ports of the stam­pede, but were yet to re­ceive con­fir­ma­tion that it was not a hoax.

Eye­wit­nesses blame the au­thor­i­ties for de­lay in reach­ing the spot and mis­man­ag­ing the cri­sis. Sangeeta Kumb­har, a local res­i­dent, said, “It started around 10.30 am, but the au­thor­i­ties came to the in­ci­dent site very late; by then, the dam­age was done.”

Gan­gad­har Man­dala, who was vis­it­ing a cor­po­rate house near the sta­tion, said, “The au­thor­i­ties should have made an an­nounce­ment to use an­other bridge. They should have at least an­nounced that there was no need to panic, but no ef­fort was seen from their end.”

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