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Railways blame Elphinstone station stampede on rain

Mumbai, October 11
The railways have blamed the last month’s tragedy at the Elphinstone Road railway station here on the rains and rumour mongering by commuters.

A report prepared by the Western Railway, in whose jurisdiction Elphinstone Road falls, says no one from the railways was responsible for the tragedy. The five-member inquiry committee set up to probe the stampede that claimed 23 lives interviewed many survivors and concluded that commuters trying to escape the rain had gathered on the bridge.

“There was confusion after someone shouted ‘phool gir gaya’ (flowers have fallen). Some people heard it as ‘pul gir gaya’ (bridge is falling) and panicked,” a WR official quoting from the report said.

The report was prepared after obtaining statements from nearly 30 survivors, the official said.

The committee has recommended installation of CCTVs and deployment of railway police personnel on foot-over bridges to control crowds during peak hours. Restrictions on carrying of luggage on bridges during peak hours have also been suggested by the committee.

Railway officials say a ticket-booking counter on the foot-over bridge where the stampede took place was in the process of being dismantled. Work on extending an existing FOB at Parel railway station on the Central Railway to Elphinstone Road station has already begun and would be completed in a year’s time, officials said.

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