How A Stampede At A Railway Station In Mumbai Killed 23 People In 38 Seconds
This post is pieced together based on intensive research of several news stories concerning this incident. The timeline of the stampede has been created after collecting factual information from eye witnesses and injured survivors.
At 10.32am on 29th September 2017, on a narrow 77-inch wide footbridge at the Elphinstone Road Railway Station (now Prabhadevi Station), a crowd quake cum stampede took place...
It had suddenly started to rain very heavily at approximately 10.28am that unfortunate morning at this iconic railway station. A large group of passengers took refuge under the covered roofs at the top of the footbridge.
It all started with a lady carrying flowers on her head slipping on the wet steps, thereby causing her to lose her balance and fall onto the unknowing crowds below her. Her big bag of flowers fell with her.
Her fall resulted in two steps of people falling downward as well. Then those 12 people falling down resulted in another 10 falling down.
Within 4 seconds, there was a large group of more than 24 people piled up on the stairs of this narrow footbridge.
The people who were on the last flight of stairs started panicking when they heard someone yelling that there was a short circuit on the top of the bridge which was causing people to be electrocuted.
What followed was complete chaos on the entire bridge....
People were trampling and jumping onto the pile of people collected on one corner of the narrow footbridge in an attempt to get out of the bridge and onto the open road below.
Then lower down on the bridge another pile up of people took place...
A passenger in the middle of the stairs was trying to free his bag stuck between 2 people behind him.
Him waiting there for 4 seconds, resulted in him and three lanes of people falling down onto him. Another little pile of people had formed...
This second pile were the lucky ones. Since they were right near the bottom, they could quickly be lifted up and removed to safety at the exit of the bridge.
Meanwhile, the first pile a little bit higher on the bridge weren't so fortunate. Most of the people trapped at the bottom of the pile were unconscious or already dead.
The ones trapped above them were suffocating and on the verge of becoming unconscious. It was like the weight of a tempo was on top of them.
The whole bridge was full to the rafters. People in the middle just could not move. The ones on the side tried to find their way out of this mad rush by jumping off from the sides of the bridge.
During this state of mass panic, a few men had the audacity to start stealing the phones, jewelry and wallets of the people in the pile who were already dead or unconscious.
A young man in his 20s, took the opportunity to press the breasts of a lady commuter who was in a semi-conscious state while he pretended to lift her up to safety.
A few people who had found a safe place for them at the side of the footbridge had taken out their mobile phones to start shooting videos and clicking pictures of what was happening.
It was a long wait of 20 minutes after this crowd quake occurred that the police arrived with their vans on the road below the bridge.
By this time, it was a bit easier to lift and remove the dead bodies and those injured to the open road below. What shocks me is that no one from the railways was there to help. They stood on the platform watching...
It was observed that the people who were waiting patiently at the top of the bridge were now getting restless and impatient...
Some of the men in the group had the audacity to climb down the bridge and even jump onto the two piles of bodies while making their way out of this ghastly place.
It seemed like most of the people were more worried about getting to their work places on time rather than help the people who were dead, dying or seriously wounded due to this sudden stampede.
This footbridge stampede would probably not have happened if...
1. The passengers did not take shelter at the top of the bridge when it started raining heavily.
2. The guy who shouted out about people getting electrocuted without knowing what had actually happened had kept his mouth shut.
3. The footbridge was double its current width of 77 inches.
4. There was a shelter provided at strategic points on the bridge at 4 points, two on the left and two on the right, so that passengers could take refuge or stand in those areas to avoid congestion on the bridge itself.
5. If the Indian Railways had gone ahead and constructed a new footbridge which they were supposed to do over 2 years ago.
6. The surface area of each step was made of a non-slippery material so that people would not slip on it so easily.
This is the first stampede in Mumbai which has resulted in the deaths of 23 people.
Sadly, the city is too crowded, trains are packed, roads are full of traffic, and arguments due to the overcrowded streets and public transport is common in the daily life of the residents.
It would not be wrong to say that the political leaders and governments of this great city are more concerned about their own well-being. They are not bothered about the city's growth.
It is shameful to report that while hundreds of citizens came forward to donate blood at the KEM Hospital where the dead and injured were taken, not a single political leader donated his or her own blood...
However, there were more than 80 of them present all through the morning and afternoon outside the hospital to get maximum publicity for themselves in the media. Shameful but true.
The purpose of this psychological and true analysis of the Railway Station Footbridge Stampede is not to pin the blame on any single person or entity. There are loads of reasons and people to blame for this.
But now is not the right time. What we must do is to ensure that we do not allow such tragic accidents to happen again.
The lessons must be learned and the dying spirit of the city must be reignited so that people come forward to help fellow beings instead of taking advantage of the situation.
At the end of the day, the weather gods have been blamed for this tragedy. For the heavy rains that started all of a sudden at 10.28am was what caused commuters to take shelter inside the bridge.
What troubles me is why there aren't shelters provided all over the place at every railway station?
Why do we wait for something like this to happen to make amends?
I guess humans are humans...we will always push the blame onto others and not take full responsibility for our actions.
This psychological analysis has been pieced together after researching over 50 news stories on this incident.
But, it is the eye witness accounts of the ones present on the bridge and the injured survivors who actually helped me put the pieces of the puzzle together.
May the souls of the ones who lost their lives in this crowd quake rest in peace.
And may the ones who survived, heal quickly, both physically and emotionally. It's a miracle that only 23 people lost their lives in the stampede...
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