A rush hour stampede killed at least 23 people and wounded 36 on Friday during a sudden monsoon downpour at a busy railway station in India’s commercial hub of Mumbai, government and emergency officials said.
India has the world’s fourth-biggest rail network, but it is grappling with underinvestment and overcrowding, especially in the city of 20 million where rail accidents have killed more than 3,000 people in each of the last three years.
The cause of the stampede on a tiny bridge at the central Elphinstone Road station was being investigated, a police official at the accident site said.
“Some of the injured are in serious condition,” Deepak Sawant, the health minister of the western state of Maharashtra of which Mumbai is the capital, said at a hospital where the injured were taken.
The stampede, at a station, recently renamed Prabhadevi, took place after the cloudburst caught commuters off guard, sending scores scurrying for cover under a pedestrian overbridge, said Akash Koteja, one of those injured.
“Trains were rolling in and some people wanted to get out of the station, but others were not making way. When a few tried, it led to a stampede,” Koteja added.
The bridge is usually crowded at that time of day, as it also provides an exit route for passengers disembarking at an adjoining railway station, he added.
Manish Mishra, a witness who helped some of the injured, said the situation was worsened as officials did not respond immediately, or take steps to control the crowd.
Emergency officials responded rapidly, state officials said, however.
“Immediately after the incident, rail, police and hospital authorities rushed to provide treatment to those injured,” state minister Vinod Tawde told reporters.