FATEHPUR: At least 35 passengers were killed and over 200 injured when 15 bogies of a speeding Delhi-bound Kalka Mail derailed here on Sunday – the second major train mishap in a week in Uttar Pradesh.
The derailment took place at 12.20 pm when the packed train from Howrah reached near Malwa station, nearly 120 km from Lucknow.
Railway Board chairman, Mr Vinay Mittal, who rushed to the accident site, said the cause for the derailment was being ascertained.
According to preliminary investigations, the signals were functioning normally and the fish plates on the tracks were intact. To a question, Mr Mittal said the driver was not drunk.
“I can’t comment,” he said on being asked whether he suspected mischief.
“15 bogies of the train derailed out of which 10 are in bad shape. The exact cause of the derailment is being ascertained. The Commissioner of Railway Safety has been directed to probe the incident,” general manager, North Central Railways, Mr H C Joshi said.
“The train was moving at the speed of 108 kmph, which is full speed,” Mr Joshi said. Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Fatehpur, Mr KN Joshi said, “35 of the passengers have died. About 200 injured are undergoing treatment here.” “Rescue workers have not been able to enter two of the bogies,” Superintendent of Police, Fatehpur, Mr Ram Bharose said, adding the dead included women and children.
While some of the bogies had toppled, others were turned into a mangled heap of metal. Gas cutters and other equipment were used to slice through the metal in the AC and other coaches to rescue the trapped passengers.
In Sunday’s mishap, 15 out of the total 24 compartments derailed in the accident of which 10 bore the maximum brunt. Of these, six air-conditioned coaches were affected. While one AC 3-tier coach had turned turtle, another coach was pushed to its top with the impact of the train’s speed. Two other AC coaches banged against each other and stood almost vertically.
Desperate to wriggle out of the mangled compartments, some of the trapped passengers were seen smashing the window panes. Ms Deepali Pradhan, who was travelling from Kolkata to Chandigarh with seven family members, said the train was moving at a fast speed when she suddenly heard a loud explosion. “Everything happened within seconds. There was a loud explosion. I was lying down on the top berth and was flung down. My brother-in-law suffered serious head injuries. My mother and children were hurt,” said Ms Deepali who had bandages on her hand and leg.
Locals, railway and district authorities immediately launched the rescue operation. The army has also sent about 120 personnel from adjoining Allahabad and Kanpur to assist them. A team of National Disaster Relief Force was also deployed. Some of the seriously injured passengers were flown to Kanpur by helicopters, Fatehpur district magistrate, Mr Mahendra Kumar said.
Two relief trains – one each from Allahabad and Kanpur – were sent to ferry the passengers. Another relief train was also sent from Delhi, Minister of State for Railways, Mr Mukul Roy said, adding helplines have been opened at both the Howrah and Delhi stations. Mr Roy said families of the dead would be given an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh, while the seriously injured would get Rs one lakh and those with minor injuries would be given Rs 25,000. The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh expressed deep sorrow and shock at the loss of lives in the rail accident. He directed the Railway Ministry to deploy all available resources in the area for rescue and relief operations.