In a tragic incident, at least 22 people were killed and another 30 injured in a stampede that occurred at the Elphinstone Station in Mumbai during the morning rush hour on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind have expressed grief at the incident and said the situation is being monitored.
“My deepest condolences to all those who have lost their lives due to the stampede in Mumbai. Prayers with those who are injured,” the PM wrote on Twitter. “Situation in Mumbai is being continuously monitored. Piyush Goyal is in Mumbai taking stock of the situation & ensuring all assistance.”
President Kovind also took to Twitter and expressed anguish at the loss of lives. “Anguished by the loss of lives in the stampede in Mumbai. Condolences to the bereaved families; prayers with injured,” he wrote.
The accident on the crowded over bridge has led to anger among residents with reports suggesting that several requests regarding the widening of the narrow staircase went unheard. Locals and eyewitnesses suggest that overcrowding on the over bridge due to sudden heavy downpour led to the stampede and the subsequent loss of lives.
Rescue operations were launched immediately and the injured have been admitted to nearby hospitals.
Here is a look at the statements by Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, other ministers and officials in the matter so far:
Piyush Goyal, Railways minister: “Just landed in Mumbai. Deeply grieved at tragic loss of innocent lives due to an unfortunate stampede at Elphinstone Road foot over bridge,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that he has ordered a high level enquiry headed by the Chief Safety Officer, Western Railways. Speaking to reporters later, the minister said that he was pained at the incident and would take all measures to ensure such an incident does not occur again. He also offered his condolences to the families of the dead and prayed for the fast recovery of those injured.
Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister, Maharashtra:
The CM said he was saddened and shocked to know about the tragic stampede at Elphinstone railway station, foot over bridge. Fadnavis said he had spoken to Chief Secretary and Commissioner of Police, Mumbai and asked them to reach hospital to monitor and ensure that everyone gets all the help. “Enquiry will be conducted by Government of Maharashtra and Ministry of Railways and necessary, strict action will be taken,” the CM’s office informed on Twitter. A compensation of Rs 5 lakh has been announced for the next of the kin of deceased and all the medical expenses of the injured will be borne by GoM, the CM’s office said.
The chief minister also posted a video message following the incident.
The Western railway said in a statement that a stampede like situation occurred on North Foot Over Bridge at Elphinsten Road station at about 10.30 am during heavy rains. “About 30 persons are reported injured. Accident Relief Medical Trn hs reached & medical assistance being provided to injured.” It further informed that the injured had been admitted to the KEM hospital and a medical team of the Western Railway was also assisting KEM hospital in treating the injured.
"Many were waiting in the rain. There were too many people in a cramped space. When people were trying to rush to their trains, the stampede happened," said railway spokesperson Anil Saxena.
A Western Railway official said the stampede was triggered after four trains approached the station from different lines. "Because of the rain, two trains came here, two on central line. Four trains came at the same time," the official said, explaining why the stampede took place.
“Our heartfelt condolence to the families of the deceased in the Elphinstone Station stampede. We hope the injured recover at the earliest, Mumbvai Police tweeted.
"We are still inquiring into the exact reasons. It happened on the narrow staircase. All the injured were rushed to the nearest hospitals," said police officer Niket Kaushik who visited the site following the accident.
The hospital confirmed that 15 people were brought dead to the hospital after the stampede. It further said there was requirement of blood at the KEM Hospital. The hospital said it needed donors with A-negative, B-negative and AB-negative blood groups and also listed its blood bank numbers for people to get in touch. The Mumbai Police later tweeted that the hospital had received enough blood to treat the injured.
Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President:
"My deepest condolences to the bereaved families who have lost their dear ones and wish a speedy recovery to the injured," he tweeted.
“Terrible tragedy at #Elphinstone stampede in Mumbai. Thoughts and prayers go out those who lost their lives and their families,” INC said in a statement.
Amit Shah, BJP president:
“Anguished by the loss of lives in the stampede in Mumbai. My deepest condolences to the bereaved families. May injured recover soon,” Shah wrote on Twitter. “I asked BJP Mumbai President and our karyakartas to assist the people in need,” he added.