At least eleven passengers were killed and 93 injured on Monday when Gorakhpur-bound Gorakhdham Express rammed into a stationary goods train at Chureb Railway Station in Sant Kabir Nagar district. Rescue efforts were on till late night and the toll is likely to go up.
Fifteen out of the total 48 passengers admitted in hospital are reported to be critical. The rest who suffered minor injuries were discharged after treatment.
The train from Hissar was to pass the goods train on a parallel track at the station, said Railway officials.
“Prima facie, it seems to be a case of track fracture due to which the train derailed and subsequently came on the same track and rammed into the goods train; the cause will be confirmed after inquiry,” said Alok Kumar Singh, Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO, North Eastern Railway (NER).
Six coaches, including four unreserved ones carrying most passengers, received the brunt of the impact. Local people rushed to help and carried out initial rescue efforts.
Chhotelal Prasad, 48, a passenger from Delhi, said, “The train was in high speed and then suddenly went off track for 2-3 minutes before crashing.”
Prasad, injured on the knee, said there was “crying and yelling and the injured, some of them bleeding, were calling for help, some lay unconscious; the villagers were the first to reach us.”
Another passenger, Parvez, 35, of Aligarh, said the coach he was in “started waving before the crash; then I lost consciousness”.
Kalpana, 35, of Sant Kabir Nagar, who suffered injuries on her back, said when the train went off track, “the passengers got up and started looking out of the windows and the doors”.
“Forces, including SSB, PAC, RPF, civil police and top police officials, reached the site to coordinate the rescue efforts,” said IG (Gorakhpur) Satish Kumar Mathur.
“The doors had mangled shut upon impact, so it is difficult to get to the bodies,” said senior Medical Officer (Railway Hospital, Gonda) Dr S K Mishra, who reached the site around 1 pm along with a team.
“Gas cutters had to be used to access the coaches,” he added.
Around 5:30 pm, a special crane also reached the crash site.
Till late night, two bogies were still to be removed and a passenger, said to be alive, was being rescued.
NER has started a helpline in about 10 districts to assist people in locating their kin aboard the train.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the injured, confirmed a government spokesperson.
CPRO Alok Kumar Singh said the Railways has announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for kin of the deceased, Rs 50,000 for grievously injured, and Rs 10,000 for those with minor injuries.
In an official statement, NER informed that six coaches of 12556 Gorakhdham Express were damaged and the coaches included four non-AC two tier coaches, one sleeper and one AC coach.
Singh also informed that Commissioner Railway Safety, North-East Circle, Prabhat Kumar Bajpayee would conduct an inquiry on May 28 in Gorakhpur and May 29 in Lucknow and eyewitnesses wishing to register their statement can approach him on the given dates.
He informed that following the accident, which Railways initially called “derailment”, nine trains, including three express trains, were cancelled on Monday, whereas Lucknow-Barauni Express has been cancelled on May 27 as well. Routes of 28 trains were changed Monday.