It was a heartbreaking scene at the southern exit of Gandhi Maidan on Friday. The whole area was dark and people looked for their dear ones amidst sobs with the help of mobile flashlights, eyewitnesses of Friday’s disaster told HT at Patna medical college hospital on Saturday.
The incident happened 45 minutes after the VVIPs had left the venue and the remaining crowd was exiting, eyewitnesses added.
They said the huge crowd rushed towards the southern exit after a rumour started circulating that a live overhead electrical wire had snapped.
“As the rumour gained currency, the crowd exiting towards the Ramgoolam Chowk panicked and headed towards the gate. Some climbed the fencing and fell, those who were following, fell onto them and the chaos spread. Hours later, many relentlessly searched for their family members and relatives in a maze of footwear left behind by people,” said eyewitness Vishwanath Sharma of Hajipur.
Eyewitnesses said people, separated from their groups, were frantically trying to "identify" family or relations, by the footwear strewn around.
Shopkeepers, who were eyewitness to the ghastly tragedy, said the police and administrative officials arrived too late.
Rampujan Singh of Jakkanpur said, "Dozens of people saved their lives by climbing atop the statue of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, former Prime Minister of Mauritius, at Ramgoolam Chowk.”
"It was these shopkeepers who took an initiative and extricated the injured persons,” said Ashok Gupta, a trader. According to eyewitnesses milk bottles and toys were strewn between the exit of Gandhi Maidan and Ramgoolam Chowk, giving an idea that women and children were the biggest victims.