At least 22 people were killed and 39 others injured in a stampede at a foot overbridge at Elphinstone Railway Station in Mumbai on Friday. Authorities initially attributed the incident to a heavy spell of rain in the morning, which caused a rush of people to crowd the overbridge linking Elphinstone and Parel stations. The station is located on the Western Line of the Mumbai suburban railway network.
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal announced a high-level inquiry into the incident, an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh to those injured. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, condoling the tragedy, also said the state would compensate the families with Rs 5 lakh. Several of the injured were taken to KEM Hospital for treatment — the police have appealed to people to donate blood to the hospital, which is facing shortage.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Goyal said, “We are well aware of the existing problem of rising passenger count and limited suburban trains. I have told the Centre about it and we will soon work on it.”
Goyal and Maharashtra Minister Vinod Tawde visited the injured at KEM hospital on Friday. Tawde apprised both Fadnavis as well as Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the situation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences to those who were killed in the incident. “My deepest condolences to all those who have lost their lives due to the stampede in Mumbai. Prayers with those who are injured. Situation in Mumbai is being continuously monitored. Rail Minister Piyush Goyal is in Mumbai taking stock of the situation and ensuring all assistance,” he said. Goyal, who was in Mumbai to inaugurate the facilities of 100 Suburban Rail Services today, cancelled the event in light of the incident.
Also read: A look at past stampede incidents in India
President Ram Nath Kovind said he was “anguished” by the loss of lives in Mumbai and extended his condolences to the bereaved families and prayers to the injured. Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu expressed his condolences as well and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
A string of politicians reacted to the incident as well. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, describing the incident as a “man-made disaster”, said it could have been avoided with had there been proper planning.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted, ”Saddened at the loss of lives in Mumbai. Prayers forthe injured to recover. Condolences to the families who lostloved ones.” Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje also expressed grief at the incident, and said her prayers are with the families of the deceased.
Shiv Sena MLA Ajay Choudhary blamed the government for not being able to provide basic facilities and services at stations while dreaming of bullet trains. Sena is in alliance with the BJP government in Maharashtra. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said an “inquiry should be instituted immediately and action must be taken against those responsible for this tragedy.”