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Mumbai railway station stampede kills at least 22

South Asia

September 29th, 2017

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At least 22 people have been killed and more than 30 injured during a rush-hour stampede on a bridge between two railway stations in Mumbai.

The crush occurred on a narrow footbridge connecting Prabhadevi station, formerly Elphinstone, and Parel station during the Friday morning commuter rush and amid heavy rain.

A Mumbai police official, Ganshem Patel, said the stampede was triggered by falling concrete that struck a bridge railing, leading to fears that the bridge could collapse. There may also have been a power cut that exacerbated the panic, according to the Press Trust of India.

“There was a huge crowd on the FOB [foot overbridge]. Everybody tried to leave at once and it appeared one of them slipped and fell, triggering the stampede,” said Anil Saxena, an Indian Railways spokesman.

Another spokesman, Ravinder Bhakar, said the number of people on the bridge was higher than usual because people were using the station to shelter from the rain.

Indian TV channels showed the injured lying on the ground with people trying to revive some by pumping their chests and carrying the wounded down into the street. Videos posted on Twitter showed lifeless bodies on the station floor, while others screamed and clung on to the outside railing.

Officials said some people had been critically injured and the death toll was likely to increase. Mumbai police have appealed for blood donations to help treat the injured.

The country’s new railways minister, Piyush Goyal – appointed after a series of high-profile rail accidents tarnished his predecessor – had been scheduled to launch 60 new services on the city network. He immediately announced an inquiry into the incident on Friday.

There have previously been calls, including from opposition MPs, to widen the footbridge between the stations. Once a centre for textile factories, the area has recently become a hub for malls and high-rise offices. But while footfall has surged, at both stations – built in the 1860s and 1870s – the infrastructure has failed to keep up.

Mumbai’s suburban railway network is among the most crowded in the world and also the most dangerous. The Mumbai Mirror reported on Friday that 410 have died this year from falling off moving trains, with another 931 injured.

More than 26,000 people died from falling off Indian trains in 2015, the most recent full year for which data is available.

Stampedes are also a frequent occurrence in the country of 1.3 billion, especially at religious gatherings. According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, 178 people died in crushes in 2014, a figure that rose to 480 the following year.

At least 19 people were killed last October in the holy city of Varanasi during a stampede among thousands of devotees making their way across the Rajghat bridge.