Rescue operations into the derailment of the Indore-Patna Express are complete taking the death toll to 145, the police said Monday. In one of the worst train accidents in recent years, 14 coaches of the train jumped tracks early Sunday morning at Pukhrayan in Uttar Pradesh throwing people, most of whom were asleep, off their berths. Over 200 people, many with grievous injuries, were extricated from the train and admitted to nearby hospitals. Rescue work was mainly conducted by teams belonging to the NDRF, Army, UP Police and RAF. The villagers of Pukhrayan were the first to reach the spot and convey messages to authorities.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was ‘anguished beyond words’ on the loss of lives in the accident and announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 2.5 lakhs for families of the victims. Chief Ministers Akhilesh Yadav and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, while expressing grief, have also announced compensation for victims.
While the Railways has opened an investigation to determine the cause of the accident, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said a fracture in the rails and the jamming of wheels could be a possible cause. Former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi said the focus of the ministry has changed from ‘operation to cosmetics’ and termed the accident a ‘derailment of an entire railway organisation.’
Most of the casualties were reported from the S1 and S2 coaches of the train which had crammed into each other trapping several people. Many families were reportedly travelling to attend marriages in nearby towns and cities. Official railway communication accessed by The Indian Express shows the train was running at 110 km per hour when the accident occurred at Pukhrayan, 60 km from Kanpur. Just minutes ago, the Sabarmati Express on its way to Jhansi had reportedly gone on the same track without feeling any jerks.
The accident comes at a time when the Railways has a long-term plan to ensure zero accidents on its network. A majority of the train accidents occur due to derailments. A three day brainstorming seminar session was conducted in Surajkund, Haryana this week where one of the topics of discussion was how to bring about ‘zero accidents.’