Lack of expertise in disaster response was seen clearly at the stampede at the Pushkar Ghat in Rajahmundry, where 27 people were crushed to death leaving many others injured on the first day of Godavari Pushkarams on Tuesday.
According to eye-witnesses, there was nobody to rescue the victims who fainted in the stampede and provide first aid for them. A few people suffered suffocation and fell down after they were crushed by the heavy rush at Kotagummam Centre.
Many victims who fell on the road were unattended for some time. As nobody offered water to them, their health condition deteriorated. Unavailability of water at the spot was also the problem which pushed up the death toll, say devotees.
Though National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel were experts in disaster response, their services were not being fully utilised in the ongoing Maha Pushkarams. Disaster and crowd managements were completely ignored in the 12-day event, the pilgrims opined.
“Had the victims been given water and first aid, a few of them would have survived. The police, volunteers and the NCC cadets who were at the spot are unaware of disaster management and first aid, and could not identify the dead and the injured at the spot,” said a devotee V. Sathibabu of Ravulapalem, who attended the Pushkarams at Rajahmundry on Tuesday.
“When the VIP is at Pushkar Ghat, a posse of policemen and officials are seen. After the Chief Minister left the place, officials and police disappeared suddenly and there was nobody to control the rush, which caused the tragedy,” said a woman devotee B. Suryakantam of Amalapuram.
“NDRF personnel are trained in giving first aid to the drowned, persons trapped in debris and buildings, suffocation and in fire accidents. Presence of experts during tragedies will minimise gravity of the situation and the NDRF is always ready to deal with any contingency. The government can use our services,” said an NDRF official.
“Police, volunteers & NCC cadets are not equal to the task”