New Delhi: Hirakhand Express, running between Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh and Bhubaneshwar, derailed last night killing as many as 39 people and injuring 67 others, many of them seriously. The spurt in rail accidents has made the railway travel in the country very dangerous.
Several bogies of the train were derailed close to Kuneru railway station in Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram district late Sunday night.
Reports suggest that the accident happened around 12 am when the ill-fated train was crossing Kuneru railway station. Apart from the engine, seven coaches – comprising the luggage van, two general compartments, two sleeper coaches, an AC three-tier coach and an AC two-tier coach – were derailed. While four coaches fell on an adjacent goods train, two sleeper coaches (S-8 and S-9) and a general coach were completely crushed.
Railway officials claim that the cause of the accident may be the gaps that reportedly developed in the railway track.
A spokesperson for the railways said, “We do not know the exact reason. As of now, there are no evidences of any sabotage. We will be able to reveal the cause of accident only after a thorough investigation by the railway safety commissioner”.
The initial support for the passengers came from local volunteers who rushed to the place to help those who needed it urgently. Video footage from the scene showed local residents and members of the disaster management team trying to rescue trapped passengers, using their mobile phones for light. “People in the train’s three sleeper-class compartments were the worst affected,” said superintendent of police LKV Ranga Rao.
Suresh Prabhu, the union Railway minister announced monetary compensation of Rs 2 lakh for relatives of the deceased, Rs 50,000 for the critically injured, and 25,000 for those with non-fatal injuries. Prabhu said “stringent action” will be taken against those found responsible for the derailment. “The cause of the accident will be probed. It is an unfortunate incident. Stringent action will be taken against those found responsible,” Prabhu told reporters after meeting the injured passengers at Rayagada district headquarters hospital.
On the other hand the government of Andhra Pradesh also announced Rs 5 lakh each for the next of kin of dead. Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, currently visiting Switzerland, said this will be in addition to Rs 2 lakh announced by the railways. The compensation will be paid under Chandranna Bima, the state insurance scheme.
Helpline numbers tweeted by Rail Ministry
Rayagada BSNL Landline: 06856-223400
Rayagada BSNL Mobiles: 09439741181, 09439741071
Rayagada Airtel Mobiles: 07681878777
Vizianagaram Rly number: 83331, 83332, 83333, 83334
Vizianagaram BSNL Landline: 08922-221202, 08922-221206