At least 22 people were killed in a stampede on a bridge near a railway station in Mumbai on Friday after heavy rains, officials said.
The stampede broke out during morning rush hour on a bridge connecting the Lower Parel and Elphinstone stations.
Police said the staircase on the bridge became overcrowded amid surging crowds and people not exiting due to the heavy downpour.
“Some witnesses say the stampede was triggered due to rumours in the crowd that the bridge had collapsed or people had got electrocuted, others say women slipped off the stairs, setting off panic in the crowd,” police officer, Sunil Deshmukh, said.
“There was chaos all around on the narrow bridge, people jumped over each other and many were seriously injured.’’
In all, 22 people had died, Regional Health Minister, Deepak Sawant, said.
Some 32 more were hospitalised, and with many in a serious condition, the death toll could increase, he added.
Footage on television channels showed people on the ground, many not moving at all, with locals attempting to revive them with water and first aid.
The two stations are used by many of Mumbai’s train commuters and there are a number of offices in area.
Media reports said there had been calls for widening and repairing the bridge, which was not strong enough to take the huge rush between the stations.
“It was a disaster waiting to happen,’’ a local resident told broadcaster NDTV, saying that the station has been overcrowded and there have been multiple demands for more such bridges.
Railways Minister, Piyush Goyal, offered condolences and ordered a high-level probe into the tragedy.
“There were several inspections by railway officials and local politicians following the complaints, but nothing happened.
“There was a delay in addressing the problem,” Sawant admitted.
The tragedy has again put the spotlight on the criticism surrounding the country’s ageing railway infrastructure.
Mumbai’s local railway system is the lifeline for the 20 million inhabitants of the metropolis and accidents are common on the busy network. (dpa/NAN)