After the Western Railways washed its hands off the Elphinston stampede by putting the blame on “unprecedented rains” and “rumours”, India TV sent its team to the accident site for checking the veracity of the claims made by the Western Railways.
And shockingly, our team found that the claims of Western Railways were based on lies.
In a statement, the Western Railways said that there was no structural damage to the 106-year-old foot overbridge and it was rain and rumours that led to the unfortunate incident. It also claimed that the length of the overbridge is 32 meter while its width is 5 meter (16.5 feet). However, when India TV reporter checked the veracity of the Western Railways’ claims, he found that the bridge was actually only 8 feet wide.
It was raining heavily this morning when stampede on the narrow overbridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations left 22 dead and 38 injured.
The Western Railways claimed that foot overbridge is in a good condition and all standards relating to its length and width have been maintained. It also added that there are two exit points in north and south.
“As people weren't prepared for rains, sudden rain made people from approach road to take shelter at FOB and at staircase. This led to overcrowding at the exit. Rumours like falling of foot overbridge created panic among people which led to tremendous push from behind towards the exit that caused the stampede,” the Western Railways said in a press note.
MoS for Railways, Manoj Sinha, too said that the rain and rumour led to the tragic incident. He added that the question of structural weakness of the foot overbridge does not arise as the deaths did not occur due to damage.
"The incident has occurred due to stampede. So I don't think that any question over the foot overbridge's strength arises. A large number of people in Mumbai commute daily. The railway has already been undertaking task of strengthening the overbridges in a serial wise manner. And we are trying to strengthen all the bridges one after the other," he said.
An eyewitness said that it was around 10 am and there was a loud noise at that time which may have led the people to believe that a part of the bridge had fallen leading to the stampede. He said that there were thousands of people cramped in the 8 feet gap on the British era bridge, adding that some who were rushing outside stopped midway to escape rains which led to the chaos.
The local police was alerted at 10.30 am but by the time they arrived the bridge was vacated, another eyewitness said, adding that it was the people not the police which rushed to help those caught in the stampede.
The decades-old overbridge is used by lakhs of people to commute to the commercial area with high-end corporate and media offices. The presence of fish and flower market nearby also adds to the congestion.
Meanwhile, most of the persons who were injured in a stampede are out of danger, authorities at the civic-run KEM Hospital said.