Indore Patna Express derails: Train accident kills 120, many feared trapped; fractured rail likely cause

Fourteen coaches of the Indore-Patna Express had derailed at Pukhrayan in Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh early Sunday morning.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar , RAMENDRA SINGH | Pukhrayan (kanpur) | Updated: November 21, 2016 7:31 am
indore, indore-patna express, kanpur, train accident, indore train accident, patna train accident, UP train accident, kanpur train derail, indore patna express train derail, train accident today, derailment, train derailment, patna train derailed, india news, indian express, indian express news Kanpur: Rescue and relief works in progress after the Indore-Patna express derailed near Kanpur Dehat on Sunday morning. PTI Photo

At 3.03 AM, the driver of the Indore-Patna Express witnessed “the overhead equipment shaking” and “felt a jerk” — both out of the ordinary occurrences — and applied emergency brakes, show official Railways records of the worst train accident in recent years that killed at least 120 people and injured over 180. Fourteen coaches of the Indore-Patna Express had derailed at Pukhrayan in Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh early Sunday morning.

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This is the worst accident since May 28, 2010, when the Gyaneshwari Express derailed in West Midnapore district of West Bengal, killing at least 148 people.

READ | Despite push by minister, outdated coaches make up bulk of fleet

The Commissioner of Railway Safety, Eastern, P K Acharya, who is probing Sunday’s accident, will look into the possibility of a fracture in the tracks as a possible cause of the accident, which led to the coaches to not only go off the rails but pile up, leading to high casualties.

READ | From a photo of the dead, a 4-year-old tries to pick father

Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha, who visited the accident site, told reporters that a fracture in the rails and jamming of wheels is suspected to have caused the accident. A little after 3 am, when most passengers were fast asleep, the Patna-bound train jumped the tracks. Two sleeper coaches, S1 and S2, telescoped into each other, trapping several people. Most of the passengers were travelling to eastern UP and Bihar.

READ | Schoolchildren brought tea, biscuits for survivors

Ruby Gupta, who was to get married on December 1, was travelling from Indore to her village in Deoria, eastern UP, with her father, sister and brother. “We had got Rs 3 lakh exchanged into new currency notes. That bag has gone missing. My father Ram Prasad Gupta is missing,” said her younger brother Vishal as Ruby and younger sister Khushi cried inconsolably. “Somebody please find my father,” cried Khushi at the Pukhrayan community health centre (CHC). By evening, came news that their father had been identified among the dead.

READ | Woman dead, family searches for her two young daughters

Ram Kumar Singh of Ballia, who was going to Varanasi from Indore, suffered a head injury. “The coach was shaking violently. It felt like an earthquake. Later, five of us climbed out of the roof of the coach. Mar gaye, mar gaye, bhagwan bachao ki cheekhein aa rahi thi, bass (All we could hear were cries of ‘We are dead, we are dead, God help us),” said Singh, who works in a textile mill in Sehore.

READ | Out of 695 passengers, 128 had opted for insurance plan

Official communication accessed by The Indian Express show that driver Jalat Sharma and chief loco inspector P D Yadav told railway officers that the train was running at 110 km per hour when the accident happened. They told the officers that there was no problem during the run, except around the time that it was crossing the Pukhrayan section, 60 km from Kanpur.

According to the accounts of Sharma and Yadav, the emergency brake was applied at kilometer 1,290. It was only after crossing almost six overhead equipment (OHE) masts that the train came to a complete halt. “…at km number 1290/6, applied emergency train stop at km number 1290/12, loco and load checked found loco safe. 14 coaches from engine derailed…heavy casualty,” says one of the communication messages.

The residents of Pukhrayan were among the first to reach the spot and start rescuing those trapped. Rescue operations, led by teams of the Army, UP Police, NDRF and RAF, continued late into the night, with bodies still being recovered. Over two dozen trains have been diverted as railway officials worked to restore the track.

Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Daljit Chowdhary, said the injured were rushed to Kanpur’s Hallet Hospital and the Pukhrayan CHC.

Divisional Railway Manager, Jhansi, S K Agarwal, said the Sabarmati Express, on its way to Jhansi, had gone on the same track at 2.53 am, minutes before the Indore-Patna Express, and the driver hadn’t felt any jerk. Agarwal said tracks are inspected every one month and the wheels of the coaches undergo “ultrasonic detection tests” every two months. “I had myself done the inspection of this track over a month ago,” he said, adding, “The cause will be known only after the inquiry.”

Derailment is the cause of 50 per cent of all accidents in the Indian Railways. This accident happened at a time when Railways, at the behest of minister Suresh Prabhu, was in the middle of a yearlong drive to achieve its “zero accident mission”. The accident has also brought into question the money spent on asset maintenance, including track renewal.

“The focus of the ministry has changed from operation to cosmetics. This is derailment of an entire railway organisation, not a train,” said Dinesh Trivedi, former Railway Minister and Chairman of the Standing Committee on Railways.

The accident coincided with Rail Vikas Shivir, a three-day “brainstorming” seminar in Surajkund, Haryana. One of the topics of discussion was how to bring about “zero accidents”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived for the concluding session of the seminar, held about eight hours after the accident, announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to each of the next of kin of the dead and other ex-gratia packages. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who went to the accident site late Sunday afternoon, also announced a Rs 3.5 lakh compensation to each of the families of the dead, along with other smaller amounts for the injured.

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First Published on: November 20, 2016 9:42 pm
  1. B
    B.AhamedAmeen
    Nov 20, 2016 at 5:59 pm
    My heartfelt condolences to the kin and kith of whose loss their live, and injured people.
    Reply
    1. H
      Hindu.Rashtra
      Nov 20, 2016 at 5:53 pm
      All chairmans of all the railways, Southern, Eastern, Western, Northern, South Central. Etc ARE ALL INCOMPETENT BRAHMIN DOGS WHO WERE APPOINTED BY THE PIMPY MAMAS IN AGENCIES. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;That is what you get for ignoring the diabolical design of the BRAHMIN DOGS.
      Reply
      1. S
        Srividya Jayaraman
        Nov 21, 2016 at 1:37 am
        Manmohan.Singh better than your mental kejriwal. Already I is keeping quite unlike Kejrieal
        Reply
        1. S
          Srividya Jayaraman
          Nov 21, 2016 at 1:40 am
          Most of the employees are SC and AT who came with any qualificatio under quota Calling Brahmins dog is that you are a filth dog and bunch of
          Reply
          1. S
            Srividya Jayaraman
            Nov 21, 2016 at 1:26 am
            You also have the dignity that Congress.For 60 years and had some nothing and AAP.For 2 years is doing nothing in Delhi.
            Reply
            1. A
              Ahs
              Nov 21, 2016 at 9:03 am
              I am sorry for the departed souls but not surprised if indian government and media blames this to stan as usual.
              Reply
              1. A
                Ashish kumar
                Nov 27, 2016 at 11:33 am
                Write a comment...how sad!
                Reply
                1. A
                  abd
                  Nov 20, 2016 at 5:18 pm
                  Very sad incident.May Allah grant peace and patience to bereaved families. I am from Pak and feeling pain as such type of accidents also happen in Pak.Why these two countries quit enemity and solve their problem politically. They spend their hard earned money on weapons instead of making these types of infrastructure better to save precious lives.They both are equally backward and insane.One buys Rafale and the other goes for F16 and FC20 and it goes on.The poor people will keep suffering.One is striving to become Hindu champion the other is Muslim mujahid.Citizen of both countries should pressurise their govts for peace.
                  Reply
                  1. B
                    Balgit
                    Nov 21, 2016 at 12:54 am
                    I din know Manmohan Singh is your new rolemodel.
                    Reply
                    1. B
                      Balgit
                      Nov 21, 2016 at 12:51 am
                      Terrible. This is what happens when you focus more on Bullet trains and adding trains in poll-bound states like UP , before improving the safety of common man. All Suresh Prabhu is doing is squeeze more money from common man in the name of blankets, AC waiting rooms, cancellation charges, tatkal charges, tatkal prime, and seat for children.
                      Reply
                      1. B
                        Balgit
                        Nov 21, 2016 at 3:16 am
                        We will ask AAP, when AAP's turn comes at the Centre. As far as I know Railway Minister is not from AAP. So right now, you face it on the chin. Dont show your back. Btw, BJP has crossed 8 1/2 years in power.
                        Reply
                        1. K
                          Kaliyug
                          Nov 21, 2016 at 5:14 pm
                          If an earlier train had just ped on those same tracks then why did this train have difficulty? If speed was not the cause then there must have been loose plates that held the tracks that got compromised. It is impossible for the inspectors to know what caused this disaster, all one will hear is the safety in charge and their dog and pony show on safety.
                          Reply
                          1. J
                            Jagdeep
                            Nov 20, 2016 at 5:54 pm
                            Yes, Azeem. We both are poor country and cannot afford ault rifles. Trust me, only 2-3% of potions have vested interest and rest 97% both sides want peace, technology, life and innovation. May GOD rest their soul in peace.
                            Reply
                            1. N
                              N K
                              Nov 20, 2016 at 5:33 pm
                              Railway Ministry is going in totally wrong direction and maintenance of rolling stock including railway lines are the least priority and more accidents may come in future
                              Reply
                              1. H
                                Harish
                                Nov 20, 2016 at 7:52 pm
                                Modi who cannot have checks of railways tracks which are in pathetic condition and are great risk for train paengers is offering free house to every India. Modi has no idea what is happening in the country under his rule but he just talks and talks but no practical help for people.
                                Reply
                                1. H
                                  H Bahl
                                  Nov 20, 2016 at 9:59 pm
                                  Accident / derailment cause is not known as yet. So many people have died but the Railway Minester has not offered to resign. He is accountable and should resign immediately.lt;br/gt;To ascertain the cause one cannot rule out SABOTAGE.Hence villages in the radius of 50 km should have been cordoned and village to village , house to house should have been searched for clue or information about any strangers seen around. Army should have been asked to ist and not the corrupt local police.lt;br/gt;Our problem is too much political interference and one track mind to avoid unpleasantness to a particular community.lt;br/gt;Our political pandits should know that security of India is far more important then to keep a particular community happy.
                                  Reply
                                  1. J
                                    Jyoti Ahuja
                                    Nov 21, 2016 at 7:40 am
                                    Promising compensation does not mean that people will be satisfied and does not complete the responsibility as it will not bring the dead family member back. lt;br/gt;Strict action needs to be taken against the faulters so as to get justice....lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Everytime any accident happens, the first thing that comes via social media is "This much COMPENSATION has been announced".lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;People don't need money, we need well-maintained Public transport so that we have safe travel.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Please take appropriate steps for the required maintenance with the funds that have been given, rather than announcing compensations everytime.
                                    Reply
                                    1. S
                                      Sankaran Krishnan
                                      Nov 21, 2016 at 2:49 am
                                      This only exposes that there is no proper maintenance of Rail tracks done by the Railways and will they be removed from the service i.e right from the General Manager to the Technical staffs and Personnel's involved with maintenance is the ???
                                      Reply
                                      1. K
                                        kris kumar
                                        Nov 20, 2016 at 6:13 pm
                                        Any accident or loss of lives is very sad and not acceptable. Indian railways have been neglected for many years because of corrupt mafia and beuracrats. Railways have been loosung money and have not attracted much investment. Any increase in fare brings hue and cry from the opposition. Congress have looted the nation at cost of safety and infrastructure. It will take many years to bring railways to a reasonable safe level as travel means. To make railways pay its way the price must rise and money must be spent on safety and facilities for the panger. This is a very big and complex job and ex ministers like chor Lalu destro railways instead of improving it.
                                        Reply
                                        1. M
                                          Manu USA
                                          Nov 20, 2016 at 4:24 pm
                                          It's really bad. I feel very sorry
                                          Reply
                                          1. B
                                            Big
                                            Nov 20, 2016 at 6:56 pm
                                            Several utube videos show trains on Indian railways, especially the "shatabdi" and the "Rajdhani" travelling at relatively high speeds for India. 110 kph is not a very high speed when compared to other countries with high speed trains. But, running trains faster and faster has to coupled with regular checking and renewal of the tracks where needed. Also, undercarriages of the running stock has also to be examined at the end of the journey of each train rake. To make and put in to operation high power electric and diesel engines that pull rakes consisting of up to 25 coaches is fairly easy, but side by side other aspects like better track maintenance and improvements of rails have also to be undertaken. There is no doubt that the no of trains being run on the same tracks has increased and so has the speed.
                                            Reply
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