26 killed in stampede at Allahabad railway station
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At least 26 people were killed and over a dozen injured in a stampede tonight at the Allahabad railway station, which was crowded with pilgrims returning from the Maha Kumbh. The number of victims is likely to rise.
"So far, we have information of 26 deaths. At least 17 bodies were brought to Swaroop Rani Nehru Hospital, while nine were at the railway hospital," said CMO, Allahabad, Dr Padmakar Singh.
"The incident occurred at around 7 pm on platforms 5 and 6. There was huge pressure on all the foot overbridges, and it appears that somebody may have fallen on the stairs, leading to the stampede," said chief PRO (North-Central Railways) Sandeep Mathur.
With the huge crowds blocking most of the entry points, rescue workers could only reach the spot at around 9 pm. Rescue operations continued till late in the night.
Preliminary reports said the railings on both sides of a foot overbridge collapsed, causing many to fall on the stairs and platform, thus triggering the stampede. But Mathur denied these reports.
"It turns out that people were coming from both sides of the bridge. It is not yet clear if the railing of the foot overbridge collapsed. We are finding out the details," said Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal in New Delhi.
Principal Secretary (Home) R M Srivastava said the pilgrims had started leaving the Kumbh Mela area in the afternoon, and thousands had gathered at the Allahabad railway station.
Officials said some trains were delayed, leading to more crowds at the station.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav ordered an inquiry into the incident. He also announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the relatives of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh each for the injured. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also announced compensation for the families.