Mumbai: 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, 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 did the rounds of social media. Videos from those on the platform watching helplessly as the tragedy unfolded, with some attempting to make a perilous escape by climbing over the railing, were also circulated

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

“Situation in Mumbai is being continuously monitored

@PiyushGoyal is in Mumbai taking stock of the situation & ensuring all assistance,” Modi said in a tweet

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

WR’s General Manager A K Gupta visited the KEM Hospital and spoke to some of the injured persons

The Mumbai police has issued an appeal to donate blood

“A -ve, B -ve and AB -ve blood is required in KEM hospital for those injured in #Elphinstone stampede.

PTI