IN­DIA TRAIN TRAGEDY:

De­rail­ment Toll Passes 120

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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

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