'Heavy rain, rumour led to Mumbai stampede'

Probe suggests better communication in rlys

'Heavy rain, rumour led to Mumbai stampede'
Sudden rain, festival rush and rumour led to the September 29 stampede over Elphinstone Road foot overbridge (FOB) in Mumbai, a report by the probe panel of the Western Railway stated.

Twenty-three people were killed and 38 injured in the stampede on the eve of Vijayadashami.

The report by a five-member panel headed by Western Railway’s chief safety officer was submitted to general manager Anil Kumar Gupta on Wednesday.

The probe team has recorded the statement of eye-witnesses, the injured and railway officials. An eye-witness and survivor had told the panel that a flower vendor’s cry of “majhaphoolpadla” (flowers have fallen) was mistaken as “pul” (the bridge has fallen)”. This triggered a stampede.

“The committee concluded that the incident occurred due to a sudden downpour and accumulation of commuters on FOB at around 10 am. The situation was further aggravated when one bundle of flowers fell, followed by someone shouting “majhaphoolpadla”. Some commuters mistook the word “phool” for “pul”. This may have possibly triggered panic and led to a stampede,” an official statement said.

The probe team has recommended better communications between the Government Railway Police, the Railway Protection Force and station masters.

The committee also recommended certain short-term and long-term measures for Mumbai’s suburban stations.

Tender delay

The Notice Inviting Tender (NIT) for Elphinstone Road FOB took about 18 months. The Railway Board has decided to constitute a high-level expert committee to inquire into the reasons for the delay and suggest ways and means to ensure that such delays can be minimised in future.

This committee would be headed by former chief vigilance commissioner Pratyush Sinha.

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