Mumbai stampede: Officials get clean chit, rain to blame

Railways' committee headed by chief safety officer of western railways has blamed sudden heavy rain for the stampede at a foot-over-bridge (FoB) at Elphinstone railway station in Mumbai which killed 23 people last month. Over 50 people were injured out of which some are still recovering.

Addressing tyhe reporters Western Railways CPRO Ravinder Bhaskar said that "it has come in the inquiry that incident happened due to rumors of bridge collapse".

The CCTV footage from 9 am to 11 am was also examined and the panel probed each movement very minutely, he said.

"Meanwhile, a vendor who was carrying a big sack of flowers lost his balance and shouted in Marathi 'phool padla ', which people misunderstood as 'pul gir gaya ' and they started running and people got trampled", Bhakar said.

The railway official further said that none of the witnesses supported the claim of short-circuit on the bridge that led to the chaos.

The probe panel has recommended that passengers be prevented from carrying heavy luggage during peak hours.

An additional staircase can also be provided, the panel said in the report.

It has suggested that officials use a quick mode of communication apart from mobile phones to ensure timely reaction and recommended providing wireless handsets to station and security staff.

Railways has constituted a high-level committee to investigate why there was a delay of 18 months in issuing a tender for a new foot overbridge at Mumbai's Elphinstone Road station. Thirty-eight injured persons were admitted in the hospital.

The committee has to submit its reports within three months.

Addressing a conference on railways, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that he was pained at the 18 month delay in inviting tender for the bridge and called it a wakeup call for railway employees.

As the transporter was slammed for laxity and delays in construction of new FoB at Elphinstone station after the tragedy, Railway Board made a decision to constitute an expert committee, headed by former Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) Pratyush Sinha, to inquire into the reasons for delay in the whole process and suggest ways and means to ensure that such delays can be minimised in future.

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