Kanpur: As many as 120 people have been confirmed dead in one of the worst train tragedies in the country. Indore-Patna Express derailed in the dead of the night some 100 kilometers from Kanpur, derailing as many as 14 coached of the passenger train.
There are fears that the number of the dead is expected to go up substantially as many of the coaches remain badly mangled and cutting them is proving to be very difficult.
Latest reports suggest that more than 150 passengers have been injured and many of them remain in critical condition.
Reports coming out suggest that horrific disaster took place when the Patna-bound train’s coaches ran off the rails just after 3 a.m. near Pukhrayan station, about 60 km from Kanpur city, railway and police officials said. Uttar Pradesh Inspector General of Police Prabhakar Chowdhary told IANS that the number of dead had crossed the 100 mark and that the toll could rise further considerably.
It happened in the dead of the night when hundreds of people travelling on the ill-fated train were fast asleep. A report in the leading news agency IANS said that the first to derail were the S1 and S2 coaches, which suffered the maximum damage. Most of the dead were crushed to death, an official of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) told IANS. Some of the injured were in critical condition. NDRF spokesperson Krishna Kumar said: “Most bodies which have been taken out are beyond recognition as they are badly crushed.” A passenger who survived told journalists that the train stopped a couple of moments after 3 a.m. for unexplained reasons.
While talking about it he said, “It then suddenly picked up speed…And then I got an eerie feeling that the train was rolling down a valley…By the time I realized what had happened, some 20-25 people in my coach had been killed. There was a six-year-old girl who was literally cut into two pieces”.
It was the worst train accident in the country after the May 2010 disaster in West Bengal involving Gyaneshwari Express that killed some 170 people. “We were sleeping and the train suddenly derailed,” said Ruby Gupta, who was going from Indore to Mhow to attend a wedding. “My father is nowhere to be seen since then. Some people are telling me to look for him in the hospital. I just need my father back.” Said another dazed survivor: “I was awake when the train derailed. There was a loud noise and then pandemonium broke out. I thought I was dreaming. My wife and children are fortunately safe… We are very sacred.”
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and the Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, where the train originated, also announced financial compensation to the dead and the injured. Soldiers and NDRF teams frantically cut through the mangled coaches to pull out bodies and the injured. Thousands of people crowded the site and tried to offer help. The railways used heavy machinery to separate the coaches, some of which had rolled over one another. Some passengers complained that there had been unexplained noises in the S1 coach but the train staff did not pay heed.