At least three passengers were killed and several others were injured when 11 coaches of the Howrah-bound Dehradun Express derailed after leaving Mehrawa railway station in Jaunpur district today. While the district administration said four persons have died,unconfirmed reports put the number of deaths at seven. Railway officials said the toll may go up.
Northern Railway officials claimed that most of the passengers trapped in the coaches have been evacuated and rushed to nearby hospitals. The cause of the accident is yet to be ascertained.
Before leaving for the accident site,Railway Minister Mukul Roy said in Kolkata that the Railways was not ruling out sabotage as the cause of the accident. My member (engineering) held a press conference in Delhi in which he said that the Railways were not ruling out sabotage. We have ordered a high-level inquiry. Accidents are happening too often,we want to know why,we are worried. We will have to see that such unfortunate things are ruled out, Roy said.
He also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased,Rs 1 lakh for the grievously injured,and Rs 25,000 for passengers with simple injuries. A job will be offered to the next of kin of the deceased,Roy said.
His party chief and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also hinted at sabotage. As is done by the Railways,this time too there has to be an investigation on whether it was an accident or incident engineered by some people. The entire thing should be thoroughly probed, Mamata said.
According to Chief Public Relations Officer (Northern Railway) Neeraj Sharma,the casualty figures till the reports last came in was three. It may go up as a couple of passengers may have come under the wreckage of the coaches that have turned turtle. The number of injured as per our information is 15. Most of the passengers inside the coaches have been rescued. Efforts are on to complete the rescue operations as soon as possible, he said.
District Magistrate of Jaunpur Balkar Singh said: Two of the bodies have got stuck beneath the coaches. They will be extricated only when the bogies are lifted up. The Railway officials will be putting up cranes for the purpose. The exercise may take over 20 hours. The condition of most of the injured is reported to be out of danger. He added that four bodies have been recovered so far.
The derailment took place between Jaunpur and Shahganj,nearly 40 km apart,around 1:15 pm. The 13009 Howrah-Dehradun Express had barely crossed the railway station,almost 20 km from Jaunpur,when the derailment took place, said Sharma.
Five sleeper coaches S-5,S-6,S-7,S-8 and SE (Extra)-1 turned turtle. The others that got derailed were two three-tier air-conditioned coaches (B-1 and B-2) and one two-tier AC coach (A-1). Two general passenger bogies and another sleeper coach also got derailed.
The injured have been taken to the Sadar Hospital,said the DM.
Following the incident,the local administration,along with the district magistrate and superintendent of police,immediately reached the spot. A rescue team,led by the Divisional Railway Manager (Lucknow) Jagdeep Rai,was rushed to the spot. Besides,medical relief vans from Varanasi,Faizabad and Muradabad were also moved to the site, said a senior railway official monitoring the control room at the divisional headquarters in Lucknow.
Meanwhile,the Railways has sought help of the Army in expediting the rescue and relief operations at the accident site. Defence PRO,Group Captain Amit Majahan said: The Railways has sought technical and medical help from Army in connection with the accident. The request was received at 5.30 pm. Two medical teams – one from Allahabad and the other from Varanasi – have been sent and they are on their way to the accident site. One technical column from Allahabad,carrying heavy duty gas cutters is also en route for the accident site.
The local residents,as well as staff from Mehrawa railway station,too joined in the relief and rescue efforts.
In Kolkata,Mamata,who presided over a meeting of state government officials,said that a helpline had been set up at the Writers Buildings. We have made all arrangements for bringing the dead bodies,if any,to Bengal. We will also ferry all those who are want to go there, Mamata said.