At least 12 persons were killed and 46 injured when Krishak Express (15007) overshot the red signal and rammed into Lucknow-Barauni Express (15204) at 10:47 pm Tuesday near Nandanagar railway crossing at Gorakhpur. The DGP headquarters has put the number of deaths at 13.
Of the 46 injured, 12 are reportedly critical. According to railway officials, Barauni Express was on its way to Barauni in Bihar from Gorakhpur. At Nandanagar crossing, a few km from Gorakhpur junction, it was given the green signal.
“Prima facie, the Krishak Express that was coming from the state capital was given a red signal but it overshot it and came on the same track as Barauni Express. At the crossover point, Barauni Express was to change lanes to a parallel track and could cross over only its first few coaches to the parallel track before Krishak Express rammed into its three general coaches,” said Chief Public Relations Officer of North Eastern Railway (CPRO-NER) Alok Kumar Singh.
While one coach did not suffer much damage, the two others bore the brunt of the impact and were completely damaged.
“One coach overturned on the track while another precariously rested on an electric pole, which prevented it from overturning. All deaths and almost all injuries were reported from these two coaches,” said a Railway Protection Force (RPF) official.
The official said the locals and medics from the Air Force were the first to reach the site. Subsequently, railway and police officials also reached the site and started the rescue work. The accident relief medical van reached the site at 12:35 am Wednesday.
Meanwhile, loco pilot of Krishak Express Ram Bahadur and assistant loco pilot Satyajeet were suspended for overshooting the signal.
Abhaynandan Shukla, 23, was in one of the two coaches of Barauni Express that was completely damaged in the collision.
“The train left Gorakhpur around 10:30pm. Barely a few minutes later, we heard a shattering noise and our coach overturned,” says Shukla, who has fractured his leg and is now admitted to the district hospital.
Ram Brich, 60, who was travelling with seven members of his family, including two grandchildren, said most of his family members were “flung” inside the train. Ram and his grandson Surdeep Kumar, 10, suffered head injuries.
Bablu Prasad, a local youth who lives at a stone’s throw from the accident site, said he heard a loud sound and then saw that the two trains had collided. “I could hear cries from all directions. Inside the coaches, several bodies were mangled,” he said.
“We called up ambulances and a local corporator led rescue efforts for a few hours before the arrival of authorities,” said another youth , Amit Kumar.
Most of the injured were taken to district hospital while some were taken to BRD Medical College, Air Force Hospital and Railway Hospital. While seven died on the spot, two others were brought dead to B R D Medical College. Two succumbed to injuries to the hospital.
Another person was brought dead at district hospital. Union Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda also reached Gorakhpur in the evening and visited the crash site and the injured in hospitals.
Talking to reporters here, Gowda termed the accident as “most unfortunate” and said “we will try to see how to minimise such accidents in future”. He announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the dead, Rs one lakh each to the grievously injured and Rs 20,000 to those who sustained minor injuries. The UP government has announced Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the injured.
After intense relief and rescue operations, the train operation was resumed at 8:35 am on Wednesday as workers simultaneously worked to restore the track. Railways also set up helplines at nine locations, including Lucknow, Varanasi, Hajipur and Siwan, among others.
An inquiry has been ordered by Railways under Commissioner Railway Safety, Eastern Circle, to ascertain the cause of the accident.