At least 16 people, eight of them children, were killed in a stampede in Mumbai's Nehru Nagar area on Thursday night following rumours of a tsunami and a breach in Powai Lake.
Television reports said that the city mayor confirmed the deaths.
Most of those injured in Santa Cruz and other western suburbs were rushed to Cooper Hospital in Vile Parle. A few of the injured were treated at Nanavati Hospital.Earlier, home ministry officials and Union Science and Technology Secretary Professor V S Ramamurthy on Thursday night confirmed there was no possibility of a tsunami striking the Mumbai coast.
Late on Thursday evening, rumours started spreading that a tsunami warning had been issued in Mumbai.
"We have not heard of any tsunami threat on the Mumbai coast," Prof Ramamurthy told rediff.com
Meanwhile, a home ministry official, whose brief is to keep a tab on tsunami alerts and warnings, was annoyed when rediff.com woke him up. Dismissing the possibility of a tsunami on the west coast, he said, "There is no such alert. How can you wake up an official based on rumours?"
The torrential rains that lashed Mumbai on Tuesday were not accompanied by any earthquake, and reports of a tsunami in Mumbai were rumours, he added.
Already hit by nature, there was widespread panic along Mumbai's coastal areas. In addition to rumours of a tsunami warning, word also spread that water from Powai lake had overflowed onto land. Police patrol vehicles had to go around dispelling the rumours and assuring people things were under control.
"There were rumours that seawater was entering land near Seven Bungalows (in Andheri, a Mumbai suburb). People were running helter-skelter, some even fell down," Aslam Hunani, an Andheri resident. "It was also very dark and for a moment it looked like there was going to be a stampede. Fortunately, announcements were made from public announcement systems from a nearby mosque and police patrol vehicles assuring people that it was a mere rumour," he added.
"Near Marol pipeline, people were fleeing their homes from the slums," said Harish Kotian, who lives near Mumbai's Sahar international airport. "A police van came around announcing that reports of a breach in the Powai Dam and a tsunami in Juhu beach were just rumours. Things calmed down only after that."
Imran Shaikh, also an Andheri resident, said there was panic and chaos all along the road from Mahim till Versova. "Around 10:30 pm, there were people all over the roads. Some were saying the entire stretch of the coast was being evacuated," Shaikh said.
Here too, the police assured people there was no tsunami alert and that there was no breach in any of the city's dams.
In Kandivali, eyewitnesses said the police were having a tough time controlling the crowd. "I just called home to check if things were fine. I was told that the area was tense and even the police announcements couldn't calm the people. Everybody is worried," said Mahipal Soni, a resident of Kandivali.