WR panel interviews 30 eye-witnesses, blames heavy rains for Elphinstone stampede

Passengers were caught in a stampede at Elphinstone railway station's foot over bridge in Mumbai

Passengers were caught in a stampede at Elphinstone railway station's foot over bridge in Mumbai

A committee consisting of 5 Senior Administrative Grade Officers (Joint Secretary level) under the Presidentship of Chief Safety Officer, W.Rly, was formed to inquire into the incidence of stampede on north end FOB of Elphinstone Road Station on Mumbai Central - Dadar suburban section on 29/9/17.

"The committee has been given three months to submit its report", Saxena said.

The Chief Security Officer of Western Railway has reportedly given a clean chit to authorities in the inquiry into the September 29 Elphinstone Railway Station Bridge stampede that killed 23 people in Mumbai.

The committee examined all the matters pertaining to the incident including the evidence from the witnesses, the written statement of injured persons, Railway officials of Elphinstone road station and analysis of footages of all the CCTV cameras installed at the station including those located on the foot over bridge (FOB).

Today, an inquiry into the stampede blamed heavy rain for the tragedy, the officials said.

The probe panel has recommended that passengers be prevented from carrying heavy luggage during peak hours. Vinayak Chatterjee of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Subodh Jain, a retired member of the Railway Board, will be the panels members.

Although the report did not support the theory of a short circuit on the bridge causing the stampede but did not rule out chances of people carrying heavy luggage losing balance in the rush and resulting in the chaos and stampede. An additional staircase can also be provided, the panel has said.

To a question whether it was the railways fault in the incident, Bhakar said, "We can not blame one staffer or department for this incident. 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.

Relocating the elevated booking office to widen the staircase (the elevated booking office is adjacent to the staircase where the stampede occurred) is also one of the recommendations. Wireless handsets can be provided to station and security staff, the report said.

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