Elphinstone stampede: Rail probe blames heavy rains, panic

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The panel is expected to submit the report within three months.

The Railway Safety Panel in its report regarding the recent stampede on the Elphinstone Railway Overbridge has said that the accident occurred due to rains resulting in overcrowding on the bridge, according to media reports on Wednesday.

The two-member committee would inquire why it had taken 18 months after the project was cleared to issue the tender, railway spokesperson Anil Saxena told PTI.

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Twenty-Three people were killed and over 39 were seriously injured in a rush-hour stampede at Mumbai's Elphinstone railway station's foot over bridge on September 29. A video footage of the incident was also examined.

The committee also recommended certain short term and long term measures for Mumbai Suburban stations.

This committee would be headed by Shri Pratyush Sinha (Retd Chief Vigilance Commissioner) with Shri Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman CII Economic Affairs council, and Shri Subodh Jain, (Retd Member Engineering, Railway Board) as Members and current Director Safety, Rly Board, Shri Pankaj Kumar as Member Secretary. An inquiry team set up to probe the incident found that the stampede was caused due to panic and confustion at the entrance to the railway station. Other recommendations include relocation of elevated booking to widen the staircase.

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Referring to the report, a railway official said the "cause of the mishap was heavy rain which forced people outside at the ticket windows to rush towards the staircase even as it was already jampacked".

It has suggested that officials use a quick mode of communication apart from mobile phones to ensure timely reaction and recommended providing wireless handsets to station and security staff. "No one can be held responsible for the incident", said Ravinder Bhakar, chief public relations officer of the WR. "The rain started around 10.09 am and subsequently the passengers started gathering at the station as well as the staircases of the bridge", he said.

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