<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A narrow Foot-Over-Bridge (FOB) proved to be a deathtrap for commuters at Elphinstone Road station in central Mumbai on Friday morning, when a stampede triggered by rumours of a short circuit and of the FOB collapsing left 22 persons dead, including an 11-year-old boy, and 39 injured.At around 10 am, commuters alighted at Elphinstone Road and Parel stations. Due to a sudden burst of rain, people stood on the FOB rather than step out onto the platform, even as other trains arrived in quick succession, bringing in more crowds. Eyewitnesses said that there were close to a thousand commuters on a 5-metre wide and 32-metre long FOB connecting the two stations. The 2.1 metre wide staircase was also packed beyond capacity.”It seems that some miscreants spread rumours of a short circuit and of the FOB collapsing, which caused panic,” said a Western Railway (WR) official. At around 10.15 am, the panic led to a stampede as people pushed each other to get off the FOB. Those who attempted to climb up the stairs were pushed back by those coming down them.Commuters lost their footing on the stairs, and those behind fell on them. In the end, there was a pile of bodies heaped on top of each other on the stairs leading down to the platform.Some people even jumped onto the rail tracks, and were pierced by the sharp fence fixed as a barrier. “We immediately started removing the blue-white coloured sheets that covered the railing of the staircase so that we could help people stuck in the stampede. We also placed a ladder and started pulling people out,” said Mitesh Dave, a local resident.There was chaos at Parel too, as the crowd on the FOB was pushed back till people spilled onto the platforms.The tragedy took place on a day when Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal was in the city, and expected to make his first public announcement on introducing new suburban rail services on Western and Central lines from October.The tragic loss of lives sparked outrage at the apathy of the Railways in carrying out much needed infrastructure upgrade.After visiting the injured at KEM Hospital, Goyal announced a ‘highest-level’ inquiry by the Chief Safety Officer, and said the Railways would undertake safety and capacity audit of all the FOBs in Mumbai. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who returned the city from Singapore at 10 pm, also announced a detailed inquiry by the state government.After visiting KEM Hospital to meet the injured, Fadnavis said that the state government would ensure that such incidents do not take place again. He added that the Union Railway minister has decided to undertake safety and capacity audit at all FOBs, and the state government, as well as BMC, would provide all required help in this regard.”We have created multidisciplinary audit teams that will inspect all suburban stations within one week and identify areas of concern,” said Goyal. “Work on FOBs in progress will be completed on a war-footing and additional FOBs will be planned at other stations where passenger traffic is high.”Expressing grief at the lives lost, Goyal said that he himself had travelled on local trains from Sion to Dadar and Dadar to Churchgate for eight years during his student days. He said he was committed to provide the best possible facilities to commuters in Mumbai.While 14 male and eight female commuters died in the stampede, another 30 male commuters and nine female commuters sustained injuries. Among the injured, two are in a critical condition. Goyal announced that next-of-kin of the deceased would be given Rs 10 lakh each as ex gratia, with the state government and Railways providing Rs 5 lakh each. He also announced Rs 1 lakh for those seriously injured and Rs 50,000 for all injured. Mumbai guardian minister Subhash Desai announced that all the injured would be provided free treatment by the BMC.During peak hours, nearly 3,800-4,000 people travel in a 12-car local train. According to railway officials, 16-20 people stand per square meter inside a coach.Opposition parties demanded the resignation of the Railway Minister, with NCP leader Ajit Pawar even demanding that a culpable homicide case be registered against the minister and railway officials.The Dadar police have, meanwhile, begun a preliminary inquiry into the tragedy, after registering an Accidental Death Report. “We have handed over the bodies after the inquest and will be conducting an inquiry in the matter to ascertain responsibility and negligence. We will register a case if we find negligence of anyone,” said Sunil Deshmukh, Assistant Commissioner of police (Dadar division)The police will also be probing who spread rumours of a short circuit and of the bridge collapsing, leading to the stampede.NUMBERS MATTER1.07 lakh
Commuters use Elphinstone Road and Parel stations every day
Commuters were estimated at the stairs as well as the bridge when the tragedy occured
11 million
square foot office space added in Elphinstone, Parel, Worli, Currey Road and mahalaxmi area over last 10 years

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22 crushed on their way to work