Days after a tragic stampede at the Elphinstone station in Mumbai that left 23 people dead, an Indian Railway report has given clean chit to the officials.
In a report, tabled on Wednesday, the railway shifted the blame on rain and said that a rumour might have lead to the incident, reported Times Now.
The panel, headed by the Western Railway chief security officer, submitted its report to WR General Manager Anil Kumar today after recording statements of 30 commuters who were injured.
It has also examined video footage of the incident, officials said.
According to the report, the stampede was caused by heavy rains which forced people outside at the ticket counters to rush to the already jammed staircase for cover.
It said the constant flow of passengers arriving at the station compounded the problem.
The report said people with heavy luggage lost their balance because of which the stampede may have occurred.
The probe also said none of the witnesses supported the claim of a short circuit on the bridge leading to the chaos.
The probe panel has recommended that passengers be prevented from carrying heavy luggage during peak hours.
The movement of commuters, mainly vendors, carrying baskets stuffed with goods during peak hours should also be restricted.
Other recommendations by the panel include relocating the elevated booking office to widen the staircase (the elevated booking office is adjacent to the staircase where the stampede occurred).
An additional staircase can also be provided, the panel has said.
It has suggested that officials use a quick mode of communication apart from mobile phones to ensure timely reaction.
Wireless handsets can be provided to station and security staff, the report said.
On September 29, 23 people were killed in the rush hour stampede on a narrow overbridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations during heavy rain.
A probe by Mumbai Police, earlier, had stated that the crowd may have misconstrued a flower-seller’s cry,‘phool gir gaya’ (a flower has fallen) was construed as ‘pul gir gaya’, (bridge has fallen) adding to the confusion that probably triggered the stampede. which could have triggered panic in the midst of it all. A young girl is also said to have slipped on the stairs, adding to the confusion.
“This crowd started pushing the crowd on the stairway. This was the primary reason behind the stampede. According to witnesses, what added to this was a cry of frustration, ‘phool gir gaya’ (a flowers has fallen), from a flower seller mistakenly construed as ‘pul gir gaya’ (bridge has fallen). Around the same time is when a young girl slipped on the stairway leading to a domino effect and ensuing a stampede. Looking to escape, people trampled over one another. Within ten minutes, it was all over,” a senior official privy to the probe details was quoted saying.