At least 11 passengers were killed and over 100 injured when a Delhi-Gorakhpur express train today derailed and rammed into a stationary freight train near a railway station here, with officials apprehending that the death toll may rise to 40.
The Gorakhpur Express passenger train was traveling at high speed and slammed on its brakes in an attempt to stop, but plowed into the train sitting on the tracks near a railway station in Uttar Pradesh state, district magistrate Bharat Lal said.
Six bogies of the Gorakhpur-bound Gorakhdham Express train were damaged in the accident which occurred at around 10 AM near Churaib railway station, railway officials and district administration said.
“As many as 11 passengers have been killed in the accident and the number of injured is over 100,” district magistrate Bharat Lal said. However, the UP Home
Department said in a statement in Lucknow that at least 40 people were feared killed in the accident.
Villagers were the first to reach the scene after the accident about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the nearest road.
“I was working in the field when I heard the whistle of the engine, and suddenly I heard the sound of crash. It was a terrible sound . it still reverberates in my ears,” villager Ram Chander Chaudhry told news channel Samachar Plus. “Within minutes I reached there and saw the train has been derailed.”
Most of the victims had been poor farm workers returning to their homes from the neighboring state of Haryana, local police official Zameer Ahmad said. The passenger train had left from Haryana’s town of Hissar and was just 46 kilometers (29 miles) from its final destination of Gorakhpur when the accident happened.
Because of the remote location, “it was difficult to start rescue operations immediately,” Ahmad said. “By the time police and rail officials reached the spot, villagers and other passengers had moved the injured away.”
Authorities were searching for the station master, who disappeared after the accident in Sant Kabir Nagar, about 220 kilometers (140 miles) southeast of the state capital, Lucknow. But authorities said it was too early to say what had gone wrong, and they were investigating everything from mechanical failure to human error.
Deeply saddened by the news of Gorakhdham Exp. accident. May God give strength to the bereaved families & speedy recovery to those injured.
— Vasundhara Raje (@VasundharaBJP) May 26, 2014
Rescuers worked to free people trapped under toppled cars and debris. The express train’s driver died later Monday from serious injuries, while the assistant driver was in critical condition, railway official Alok Kumar said.
Trains were diverted to other tracks to avoid the wreckage.
My condolences to families of those who lost their lives in the Gorakhdham express tragedy. Prayers with the injured.
Narendra Modi, who was to be sworn in later Monday as India’s new prime minister, expressed condolences to the families of the dead in a message on Twitter. “Prayers with the injured,” he said.
Accidents are common on India’s railroad network, one of the world’s largest with 20 million people riding daily on about 11,000 passenger trains. Most accidents are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.
Earlier this month, a train crashed into a jeep at an unmanned railroad crossing in Uttar Pradesh, killing 13 members of a wedding party. Four days earlier, a passenger train derailed, killing at least 19 people just south of Mumbai. Another train derailment last month left dozens injured in the northeast state of Assam.
Helpline numbers: 0551-2204893, Lucknow – 0522-2288890, 0522-2635639, 09794830974, Gonda 05262-222330, Bhiwani – 01664-243565, Bikaner-0151-2544764, New Delhi – 011-23341074
With inputs from PTI & AP