INDIA TRAIN TRAGEDY:
Derailment Toll Passes 120
At least 120 lives were snuffed out in the deadliest train accident in six years as the Indore-Patna Express, packed with more than 2000 people and doing 100 kmph, flew off the tracks at 3.10am, leading to derailment of 14 coaches. The coaches derailed in the predawn hours as the Patna-bound train crossed Pukhraya in the Jhansi-Kanpur section, about 60km from here. The high toll was in part due to sleeping passengers being caught unawares and the older coaches in the train. Two coaches, S2 and S3, bore the brunt of the derailment.
‘Rail fracture’ due to expansion of the track in summer and contraction in winter has been identified as the likely cause of the accident that occurred at Hasemau village, between Pukhraya and Malasa stations. If confirmed, it could point to deficiencies in track management. The train had 23 coaches, including 12 sleeper coaches, three general seating coaches, four AC3, one AC1 and two SLR (seating-cum-luggage) rakes. The driver and guard are safe; their account could help the commissioner of rail safety piece events together.
The last big rail accident was in May 2010, when Gyaneshwari Express derailed in West Midnapore in West Bengal, killing 148 people.
Medical and accident relief trains from Kanpur, Jhansi, Agra and Allahabad were rushed to the spot. Rescue personnel, including National Disaster Response Force, pulled out dozens of passengers. Railway sources said an extra AC3 coach was added to the train. They said casualties may have been higher since all coaches were old ICF ones rather than the modern Linke Hofmann Busch coaches.
Locals and cops were the first to reach the spot within 30 minutes of the accident. The train runs between Rajendra Nagar Terminal (Patna) and Indore, and passes through Varanasi, Faizabad and Kanpur, among 17 stops. An Army column and NDRF personnel from Varanasi and Lucknow reached the site to speed up rescue operations. Besides, police teams from neighbouring Orai and Kanpur districts were also deployed.
Rail traffic on the crucial KanpurJhansi section that links UP to MP and Maharashtra remained affected till the filing of this report. Many trains were either cancelled or diverted. The accident scene was not for the faint hearted.
Rescue workers search for survivors at the site of the train derailment in Pukhrayan, south of Kanpur city, India, on Sunday
Emergency crews search through wreckage from the train on Sunday