Taxi catches fire after cylinder bursts at CSMT, Mumbai commuters panic

The blast was so loud, Mumbaiites 100 metres away heard it

mumbai Updated: Dec 19, 2017 00:26 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustan Times
cylinder blast,Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus,Mumbai commute
Officials dousing the flames outside CSMT.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT)

The compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinder of a taxi burst just outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) — one of the city’s largest and busiest railway stations — leading to chaos and panic among commuters at 3.50pm on Monday.

The blast was so loud, Mumbaiites 100 metres away heard it. The taxi burst into flames on DN Road, an hour-and-a-half before the peak-hour rush. Thick black smoke entered the subway and suburban concourse soon after.

Panicked commuters began fleeing, leading to a stampede-like situation for a few minutes. Many said they thought a bomb had blast as the incident triggered memories of the 26/11 terror attack, which partly unfolded at CSMT.

“I heard a loud blast. As people began running past us, we followed them,” said a woman, who rushed out with her two children.

The government railway police, railway protection force and recently deployed Maharashtra security force cordoned off the subway gate so as to keep commuters away from the cab, which was engulfed. This, however, led to crowds outside the south-end ticket.

Commuters calmed down once people learnt what had happened. Within 15 minutes, two fire engines reached the spot and doused the flames. DN Road was shut for traffic, resulting in snarls during the evening peak hour.

Mahendra Pratap Singh, the owner of the taxi, said he had picked up a passenger at Sakinaka and was heading to the general post office. He noticed smoke emanating from his Maruti Omini taxi outside CSMT, following which he pulled over and asked his passenger to alight.

“The fire spread so rapidly that I could not disconnect the battery wire,” Singh said. He added that he fled before the cylinder blast.

First Published: Dec 19, 2017 00:25 IST