Twenty-two people died and 39 were injured after a stampede on a foot overbridge between Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road and Parel railway stations on Friday morning. “They all had succumbed before reaching the hospital,” a doctor from the casualty wing of KEM Hospital told Scroll.in.
The Railway Ministry has ordered an inquiry into the stampede. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said the foot overbridge where the stampede occurred will be widened.
The colonial-era station witnesses a heavy rush of commuters during the week because many office towers have sprung up in the area over the past 15 years. However, the single platform still has only one set of stairs leading to the exit.
Experts had long warned that the daily congestion at Elphinstone Road station and the nearby Parel station, to which it is linked by a narrow bridge, was a disaster in the making. So far, the railway authorities have taken little visible action to solve the problem.
- Elphinstone Road station: 24301614
- Churchgate station: 22039840
- Mumbai Central station: 23051665
- KEM Hospital: 9004498888, 9004497300
Here is how the day unfolded:
10.22 pm: Western Railway requests the public to come forward with any information they may have on the stampede and what triggered it.
9.17 pm: Piyush Goyal says employees of Mumbai Railways accepted his request to not celebrate Dusshera in the wake of the stampede.
9.10 pm: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal says all suburban stations in Mumbai will be inspected over the next week. Work on foot overbrigdes will also be sped up.
7 pm: The Western Railways says people were caught unawares because of unprecedented rainfall, ANI reported. Since they were not prepared, people coming in from the approach road took shelter at the foot overbridge and the staircase, it said, in a press release, adding that this overcrowded the exit. “
Rumours that said the foot overbridge was falling made people panic, which in turn led to a tremendous push from behind towards the exit, eventually creating a stampede, the railways said in a press note.
“There was no structural damage to the foot overbridge, which can be attributed to the stampede,” it said. The foot overbridge is 5 metres wide and 32 metres long, and has two exits, it added.
The railways also added that once the new foot overbridge is constructed, platforms at Elphinstone station will also be extended.
6.53 pm: Pramod Bagwe, one of the people injured in Friday’s accident, tells Scroll.in that he and his wife Pradnya Bagwe were on their way to work when the incident occurred. He says he was buried under a heap of bodies initially but later gained consciousness and rescued his wife.
“People were not getting out of the foot overbridge as it was raining heavily, and those on the top were pushing others,” he says, adding that a few people slipped, and started to fall off the extremely narrow bridge.
6.35 pm: An accidental death report under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been registered at the Dadar police station, ANI reported.
6.30 pm: The Ministry of Railways says a new foot overbridge of 12 metre width was sanctioned for Elphinstone station in 2016-’17. It will link Central Railways and Western Railways, the ministry has tweeted, adding that the tender will be opened on November 9. A railways official told ANI that Rs 9.5 crore has been sanctioned for this project.
5.40 pm: Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil says the incident should be treated as a case of murder. A First Information Report under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code should be registered against railway officials, he has said, according to News18.
The leader of opposition in the legislative assembly adds: “Had the administration worked towards providing basic facilities to commuters, instead of renaming the railway station (Elphinstone) as Prabhadevi, so many lives would not have been lost.”
5 pm: Congress President Sonia Gandhi expresses her anguish over the accident, and says the man-made disaster could have been avoided. “Such accidents could have been avoided had there been proper planning and concern for safety issues,” she said, according to IANS.
4.51 pm: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut calls the stampede “a public massacre of the people by the government”, according to IANS. Other Sena leaders demand Railways Minister Piyush Goyal’s resignation.
Instead of pursuing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet bullet train project, the Centre should focus on improving amenities at railway stations, they said.
4.15 pm: Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra has tweeted that the stampede has made him feel ashamed. He has also offered to help authorities in planning for contingencies.
4.11 pm: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan says incidents such as the stampede have made the government lose its face, and worries people a lot, according to ANI.
3 pm: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal says the Elphinstone Road foot overbridge will be expanded immediately, Hindustan Times reported.
He also issued directions to conduct a safety and capacity audit of other congested foot overbridges in Mumbai, ANI reported.
2.49 pm: Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha says, “I don’t think any question has been raised on structural strength of bridge. The incident happened due to stampede,” ANI reported.
2.19 pm: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have also expressed their grief over the incident.
2.13 pm: Anuj Kumar, 21, a resident of Kurla, sustained a fracture. His friend, Govind Ken, told Scroll.in he had to take Kumar in a taxi to the hospital as there were no ambulances. “I saw people dying and they were screaming for help,” Ken said. “Some people who were trying to help also died.”
2.02 pm: Fifty-four-year-old Anil Pandurang Nakte, who survived the accident, told Scroll.in, “I was chanting God’s name throughout,” he said. Nakte saw his colleague, Hitesh, buried under a heap of people. “I was scared to move and held on to the railing,” he said.
“Hitesh was bleeding and unconscious, and could not move his leg. I put him in a taxi and brought him to the hospital,” he said, adding that he was not even sure if Hitesh will survive. Nakte blamed the railway officials for not addressing the problem of overcrowding. “I take this bridge to my office every day,” he said, adding that this tragedy was waiting to happen.
1.43 pm: Chief Public Relations Officer of Indian Railways, Ravinder Bhakar, told Scroll.in, “I will have to check with the construction department about the status of the plan to widen the bridge”.
1.29 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis says the state government and the railway ministry will conduct an investigation. He has also announced Rs 5 lakh for the next of kin of the people who died in the accident. The medical expenses of the injured will be borne by the state government, he has tweeted.
1.22 pm: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who has just reached Mumbai, says he is “grieved by the tragic loss of innocent lives due to the unfortunate stampede”. “Have ordered a high level inquiry headed by the chief safety officer of Western Railways,” he tweeted.
1.15 pm: Mumbai Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar says the Western Railways should have constructed either a new foot overbridge or a bigger one to accommodate heavy footfall, reported News18.
1.07 pm: On Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the situation is being monitored by the government.
1 pm: More than 2,000 people have died this year at Mumbai railway stations and on local trains.
12.58 pm: National Disaster Response Force teams have reached the site of the accident, ANI reported.
12.52 pm: President Ram Nath Kovind has expressed his condolences to the victims’ families.
12.28 pm: The toll has risen to 22.
12.26 pm: A railways official has attributed the stampede to the rain, ANI reported.
12.10 pm: Railways Minister Piyush Goyal is likely to visit the site of the accident.
12 pm: A doctor from the casualty wing of KEM Hospital told Scroll.in that 15 people have died.
11.50 am: Western Railways official said paramedics have been deployed to the site. The injured are undergoing treatment at KEM Hospital and other hospitals in the city.
11.47 am: Three people have died in the stampede and at least 20 are seriously injured. “Of the injured, 20 people sustained serious injuries and the rest have minor injuries,” Government Railway Police Commissioner Niket Kaushik said.
11.40 am: Reports say there has been a stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road railway station at around 10.45 am.