At least three of those who died in Friday’s stampede at the Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai are suspected to have suffered cardiac shock, including the youngest victim, 11-year-old Rohit Parab. Forensic doctors have sent samples of organs of Rohit, Alex Curia, and 35-year-old Sachin Kadam for histopathology tests to confirm if “cardiac standstill” caused their death.
“There are injuries on their bodies. But those injuries were not serious enough to cause death. We suspect they experienced shock when the stampede began and may have suffered heart attack. The opinion in all three cases has been reserved,” a resident doctor of the forensic department at KEM Hospital said.
Forensic findings analysed by The Indian Express show that four of the 23 who died — Mayuresh Haldankar, Suresh Jaiswal, Hiloni Dedhia and Mushtaq Rais — experienced suffocation or “traumatic asphyxiation”. They were likely among those who were buried the lowest in the stampede on the railway foot overbridge.
The stampede began on 10.15 am, and bodies were pulled out till 11.30 am. Many of those who died were buried under at least four or five other people for over 30 minutes. Other victims suffered multiple injuries to kidneys, liver and other organs, resulting in their death. Their autopsy reports suggest they may have been trampled upon. Five of these victims also suffered haemorrhage shock.
Another seven died due to blunt trauma injury to the chest, causing lung failure. “In a stampede-like situation, chest injury and suffocation form the most common causes of death,” said KEM Hospital Dean Dr Avinash Supe. Head of KEM Forensic Department Dr Harish Pathak said, “Compression of lungs may happen when a person is buried under several people and his chest is compressed.”
Three others, Shubhalata Shetty, Nepali migrant Tilakram Teli who was identified the last, and Satyendra Kumar Kanojia, died due to head injuries. Kanojia (35) succumbed on Saturday morning after being kept on a ventilator for a day and failing to gain consciousness. “He died due to head injury associated with unnatural injury to lungs,” his forensic report states.
Rohit, who was among the first to be brought to KEM Hospital, was buried under a pile of people and was dead by the time he arrived at the hospital. He had injuries on his face, limbs and chest and records show he was bleeding. “But his body was intact,” a forensic expert observed.
Ahead of Dussehra, Rohit had come to Parel market to buy flowers with his elder brother Akash Parab (19) for their Vikhroli store. The duo got separated in the stampede, and Akash survived with a leg and femur fracture. Kadam, a Dombivali resident, was accompanied by a group of friends as they crossed over from Parel station using the foot overbridge where the stampede happened. He had just finished a Dussehra pooja on board a train with fellow commuters. His friend Babu Jadhav claimed he died on the spot. Kadam is survived by an infant son and wife.
Dedhia, 22, was found lying near the bridge’s exit. She was holding hands with another deceased woman in a video footage of the stampede, indicating that the two strangers held on to each other for support. Her family identified her with the help of a pink purse she was carrying, which was found by a local and handed over to KEM Hospital’s emergency ward.