Over 115 passengers were killed and more than 200 injured, nearly half of them grievously, in the worst train accident in recent years when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed in Kanpur rural area in the wee hours on Sunday due to suspected rail fracture.
The disaster took place just a little after 0300 hrs when the passengers were jolted out of their sleep as the Patna-bound train jumped the tracks, badly damaging four ordinary sleeper coaches in which hundreds were trapped. Of the four coaches, the S1 and S2 had telescoped into each other and most of the casualties were feared to have been in these two compartments.
S3 and S4 coaches also suffered severe damage while an AC III tier coach was also affected but casualties in it were not heavy. As railway personnel assisted by those of army, NDRF and state police carried out the search and rescue operation, the number of casualties kept on increasing by the hour.
By evening, 110 bodies were recovered and taken to Mati mortuary in Kanpur rural. The death toll is over 115, UP DGP Javeed Ahmad said. Among the dead, 43 have been identified, of which 20 are from Uttar Pradesh, 15 from Madhya Pradesh and six from Bihar and one each from Maharashtra and Gujarat. Post mortem of 27 identified bodies has been done and they were being handed over to the families. Ambulance facilities were also being provided to the families of the victims to transport the bodies, officials said.
An army man Prabhu Narayan Singh, Anil Kishore of BSF from Rohtas, Bihar, and UP police constable Lakhan Singh from Jhansi were among the dead. 76 passengers were seriously injured in the derailment, IG (Kanpur range) Zaki Ahmad said. 150 other passengers received minor injuries in the mishap. "Over 150 injured people have been rushed to nearby hospitals in the area. All hospitals have been asked to be alert. More than 30 ambulances have been pressed into service," he said.
Officials said that prima facie the cause of the accident could be due to track fracture. Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha told reporters at the spot that it seems the cause of the accident is rail fracture. Member (Engineering) of the Railway Board will find out the cause of the mishap and action will be taken against those responsible, he said. With several passengers feared trapped, rescue personnel employed cold cutters to break open the compartments as gas cutters produced excessive heat and suffocation hampering their efforts.
A number of trapped passengers were rescued. Teams of army doctors, railway officials and personnel of NDRF, state PAC and other policemen were involved in carrying out rescue and relief operation. The Chief Minister instructed the DGP to personally monitor the relief operations and deploy traffic police along the route of the mishap site to ensure green corridor for ambulances to reach hospitals quickly.
More ambulances/roadways buses have been rushed to the spot for speedy relief operations, the CM said. DG Health and ADG (Law and Order) also rushed to the accident spot to monitor the relief operations. Buses were pressed into service to help passengers complete their journey, Kumar said.
North Central Railway General Manager Arun Srivastava said traffic on Kanpur-Jhansi section will be opened in 36 hours. NDRF Director General RK Pachnanda told PTI that a total of five teams of the special rescue force, comprising 45 personnel each, were pressed into action at the accident site. "The rescue teams are deploying cutters and hydraulic equipment to ensure that all the trapped passengers are evacuated safely from the rail bogies," the DG, who reached the accident site, said. "As the victims are trapped inside the bogies, due care and diligence is being taken into consideration," he said. NDRF responders were making all possible efforts to rescue the trapped victims with the help of multi-types of latest disaster management gadgets and tools. NDRF rescued at least 53 passengers including 16 badly trapped from the bogies. Among them were two children. Some additional teams are also put on stand by and shall be mobilised as per demand," the force said in a statement.
President, Prime Minister express grief; announce ex-gratia
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi led the nation in condoling the train tragedy in UP's Kanpur Dehat district in which more than 115 people were today killed and over 200 injured. "I am sad to learn about the accident in which many have lost their lives and a number of persons are injured. I am sure that the state government is providing all possible assistance to the bereaved families as well as medical aid to the injured," Mukherjee said in a message to Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik.
The Prime Minister in a tweet said, "Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families."
He said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is personally monitoring the situation and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured in the mishap from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund. Modi observed two-minute silence to condole the loss of lives at the Rail Vikas Shivir at Surajkund on the outskirts of the national capital asking the railways to work toward achieving the zero accident target to make train journeys safe. Home Minister Rajnath Singh also expresseddeep pain over the loss of lives. He said there will be an inquiry into the incident to find out the detail cause of it.
Five NDRF teams were deployed to rescue passengers trapped in the mangled bogies of the train even as the Home Minister gave instructions to the force's chief, R K Pachnanda. Prabhu has ordered a probe into the train tragedy and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 3.5 lakh for the families of those killed and Rs 50,000 for those grievously injured. Sonia Gandhi in her condolence message said, "Words can't describe the pain and anguish of those who lost their near and dear ones and the entire country stands in solidarity to share this unbearable sorrow." She also asked the local Congress unit to assist in the relief and rescue operations along with the authorities. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh will be paid to next of kin of the deceased.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who visited the injured in hospitals in Kanpur Urban, announced Rs 2 lakh for kin of each of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
"If the incident has taken place, first responsibility lies on the state government as hospitals, ambulances and the entire administration is of the state. We have fulfilled our responsibilities and our priority at present is to save maximum lives," he said. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar cancelled a function to release a report card of his government on completion of one year in office and expressed grief over the mishap. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Assam counterpart Sarbananda Sonowal expressed condolence to the bereaved families.
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Train disasters of the past two decades
20 August, 1995
In India, 305 are killed and 344 injured in a collision between two trains at Ferozabad, near Agra in the north.
20 February, 2002
In Egypt, 361 people are killed in a train fire near the town of Al Ayatt south of Cairo.
24 June, 2002
In Tanzania, 288 die in a train accident near Dodoma.
18 February, 2004
In Iran, 328 people are killed by an explosion on a train carrying sulphur, petrol and fertiliser in the northeast.
26 December, 2004
In Sri Lanka, 1,300 are killed out of 1,500 passengers on a train between Colombo and Galle. It is struck by a giant tsunami which ravaged 11 countries on the shores of the Indian Ocean.
With inputs from PTI and AFP