At least 22 people were killed, and 30 injured, in a stampede on the narrow foot overbridge at Elphinstone Road railway station, around 10 am on Friday. According to the police, heavy rain coupled with peak-hour rush triggered the stampede. However, several eyewitnesses suggested that the panic was caused because of rumours about a short circuit and a possible collapse of the bridge under the crowd's weight.
Locals climb on to the narrow foot over-bridge at Elphinstone this morning during rush hour to rescue injured commuters wedged in the railing
Eyewitnesses said that passengers were waiting and stranded on the overbridge since unexpected heavy rain had forced them to stay inside the station at the time of the tragedy at 9.45 am. In no time, more people began gathering at the bridge. Rumours of the bridge collapsing under their weight triggered panic, and people started running helter-skelter. "The ensuing commotion caused a stampede, and passengers started frantically running for their lives," said an eyewitness.
With little space to negotiate, several were crushed. Those who tried to hold on to the railing were wedged against the metal. Videos doing the rounds also show several commuters trying to jump from the bridge in an attempt to save their lives.
Gangadhar Mandala, an eyewitness told mid-day, "The crowds were increasing by the second. New trains were coming in and adding to the rush. Meanwhile, those already at the station weren't leaving due to the rain, leading to overcrowding. No policeman or railway official was around when the mishap occurred, else immediate crowd control would have prevented the tragedy."
After the stampede was over, many injured commuters were seen sitting on the bridge waiting for medical help, while commuters and residents from around rushed the seriously injured to the nearby KEM Hospital in Parel.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) also reached the spot around 1 pm to assist in the rescue operation.
Chetan Thakker, whose brother Piyush was injured in the incident, said, "My brother left home at 9.15 am and I followed him in the next train. By the time I reached Elphinstone, I was shocked to see what had happened. I tried calling him, and that's when he told me he was being treated at KEM."
Shiv Sena corporator Samadhan Sarvankar reached the spot with a group of sainiks and shouted slogans against Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who was incidentally in Mumbai to launch 100 new suburban rail services. The Sena blamed the BJP, and Sanjay Raut, Sena RS MP, said, "This is murder. Even before this terrible incident we have said that Mumbai does not need a bullet train, but better railway infrastructure."
Police at the site of the mishap this morning
At the time of going to press, Mumbai Police Commissioner Dattatray Padsalgikar was at KEM Hospital to take stock of situation.
Footwear of the victims
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that Goyal was monitoring the situation and providing assistance. "My deepest condolences to all those who have lost their lives due to the stampede in Mumbai. Prayers with those who are injured," he tweeted.
Gangadhar Mandala, eyewitness and volunteer
State medical education minister Vinod Tawde has announced Rs 5 lakh compensation for the dead and free medical assistance to the injured. Meanwhile, CM Devendra Fadnavis has ordered a probe. "Enquiry will be conducted by Government of Maharashtra and Ministry of Railways and necessary, strict action will be taken," he tweeted.
Watch video: Dahisar river touches the danger mark near National Park
Download the new mid-day android app to get updates on all the latest and trending stories on the go https://goo.gl/8Xlcvr