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 Wednesday, 25 December, 2002, 17:40 GMT
Excited fans mob Delhi metro
Metro officials hold off crowds of passengers
The rush to ride the metro was overwhelming

Chaos marked the opening of Delhi's new Metro railway as more than a million people attempted to use the system on the first day.

We didn't expect such unprecedented crowds

Anuj Dayal, Metro official

The mass rapid transit system was thrown open to the public at 0600 on Christmas Day.

Thousands of people travelled long distances to board the spanking new Korean-built train coaches.

Many came from outside Delhi, from the neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The ensuing chaos forced the authorities to briefly shut a station down.

Review meeting

Metro officials said people had queued up outside stations during the night to be able to board the first train.

Passengers hang on to the train
Many passengers came from outside Delhi

"To be quite honest, we didn't expect such unprecedented crowds," Anuj Dayal, the official spokesman of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, told the BBC.

Excited crowds shouted slogans and crowded the stations, forcing one of them to be shut down for 30 minutes.

Metro officials now say they plan to hold a review meeting shortly to decide how to cope with the rush.

The Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, officially inaugurated the metro on Tuesday but the system was opened to the public on Wednesday.

See also:

25 Dec 02 | South Asia
24 Dec 02 | South Asia
24 Dec 02 | South Asia
17 Sep 02 | South Asia
19 May 02 | South Asia
10 Apr 02 | South Asia
08 Apr 02 | South Asia
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