Massive rush caused stampede, says railway minister

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) The stampede at the Allahabad railway station that killed 38 people was caused by a massive rush of pilgrims, not by collapse of a foot overbridge or its railing, Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said Monday.

"I am saying it again that the foot overbridge did not collapse and neither did the railing of the bridge," he said. "All arrangements were in place at the station."

Bansal added that a massive rush caused the stampede at the Allahabad railway station and the administration is now clearing platforms of passengers.

Recounting what had happened, Bansal said: "There was massive rush and passengers broke the barricades. Thousands of people were on the foot overbridge. In such situations, anything can happen."

He also denied reports of poor arrangements at the railway station.

"Arrangements were made well in advance and there was colour coding at railway station to divert the rush according to destinations. All arrangements were in place," said Bansal.

He said he would visit Allahabad to monitor the situation as three major bathing days are scheduled at the Maha Kumbh.

"I am going to Allahabad with the Railway Board chairman to see the situation and preparations as three more bathing days are scheduled in the coming days," Bansal told reporters.

Giving the break-up of the dead and the injured, Basal said 36 people had died while 39 were injured, three critically.

He said the full focus of the railway administration is on clearing passengers from the Allahabad railway station.

"I have spoken to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and the governor (B.L. Joshi). Even now there is a lot of rush at Allahabad railway station," he said.

"Several special trains have been running since Sunday from Allahabad. The railways will run 220 special trains for next three days (Feb 11-13) to clear the rush. We are also trying to arrange more trains," he said.

Bansal said the lists of the dead and injured have been put on the North Central Railway website.

"Apart from the compensation announced by the prime minister, we will give Rs.1 lakh each to the kin of the dead, Rs.50,000 to the critically injured and Rs.25,000 to victims with minor injuries. Arrangements have been made to treat the injured," he said.

"Besides, we are offering two AC second class passes each to the relatives of the victims who want to go to Allahabad and come back," he said.