Monday, February 11, 2013

22 dead, many injured in stampede at Allahabad railway station

Twenty-two people have died in a stampede at the Allahabad Railway station. The toll, however, may go up with several of the injured in critical condition. They have been admitted to the Swaroop Rani Hospital and the Railway Hospital in Allahabad.

The stampede happened at around 7 pm on a footbridge between platform number 5 and 6 of the railway station. There were lakhs of people at the station, many on their way back from Allahabad after a holy dip in the Ganga at the Maha Kumbh Mela; Sunday was 'Mauni Amavasya', considered the most auspicious day of bathing during the 12-yearly congregation.  

According to eyewitnesses, the stampede happened after the police lathi-charged to control the crowd. Divisional Railway Manager Harinder Rao, however, claimed that people were not lathi-charged and the police only attempted to regulate the movement of the crowd by asking passengers to stand in line. A police officer said an estimated 4,000 people were present at one single point at the site of the stampede.

The relatives of the victims have complained that the authorities took more than two hours to act after the incident. They say there was only one doctor at the station attending to several people who were injured in the stampede. (Watch: No help for hours, say eyewitnesses)

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who is on his way to Allahabad, said, "Our officials reached late. There was a lot of traffic." 

The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered an inquiry into the stampede and sanctioned an ex-gratia of Rs. five lakh each to the families of the dead. (Read)

The UP government has also asked the Railways to make proper arrangements to clear the huge rush of devotees. Over three crore people were at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad on Sunday to take a holy dip. 49 special trains were put in place for them in addition to the 112 regular trains that pass through Allahabad daily.

Two people were killed at a stampede at the mela earlier in the day.

Helpline numbers: 05321072, 2408149, 011-23341074, 011-24357660

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