MUMBAI, India – At least 22 people died during a Friday morning stampede at a train station in Mumbai, after a crowd surged on a narrow overpass. Thirty others were seriously injured in the incident.
Heavy rains caused more people than usual to be on the overpass between Elphinstone and Parel stations, and was probably a contributing factor when a few people slipped, aggravating the crowd surge.
The bridge connects platforms to two different railway lines, and four trains had arrived at the same time, increasing the number of passengers trying to use the bridge. There are also reports a short circuit caused a loud bang, startling the crowd before the stampede.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias told Crux the people of the Archdiocese of Bombay are mourning those lost in the accident.
“I am anguished and deeply pained by this tragedy. So many lives snatched away in an instant,” the cardinal said.
“Our prayers and condolences are with the families who have lost their loved ones in the tragedy,” he said. “Our city is suffering due to this loss of life. May God grant them eternal rest.”
India’s national Railway Ministry is investigating the disaster, but Mumbai’s creaky infrastructure has long been struggling to meet the needs of its growing population.
Greater Mumbai – previously known as Bombay – currently has over 20 million inhabitants, over twice the number it had 20 years ago.
It is estimated over 6 million people ride the train every day in the metropolitan area, and at rush hour train carriages often carry triple the number of passengers for which they were designed.
Over 3,000 people die in accidents on the Mumbai rail network each year.
Gracias told Crux the tragedy would be felt even more deeply in the city, since Dusshera – a Hindu festival – is to be observed on September 30.
The cardinal said it was supposed to be a time of great joy, and now many families would feel only great pain.
“We suffer with them, and hope the Lord will give them some consolation at this time of great grief,” he said.
The archdiocese said the Church was helping in providing medical assistance to many of the wounded – and would be offering other forms of assistance – and the city’s Christian community would be offering its prayers.