At least 15 people were charred to death and over 50 were injured after the Bangalore-bound Hampi Express train rammed into a stationary goods train at Penukonda station, 400km south west of Hyderabad, in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh early Tuesday morning.
District police officials said that the accident happened at around 3:45am on Tuesday and three bogies, one SLR and two second class coaches bore the brunt of the rear-end collision. The first coach after the engine caught fire soon after the accident, probably due to short circuit and 8 charred bodies were recovered from it. Similarly, another 7 charred bodies were recovered from the third bogie which was mangled beyond recognition.
Local revenue and police officials rushed to the spot soon after news spread and took up rescue and relief operations. Charu Sinha, DIG Police of Anantapur Range said that about 80 persons were rescued out of which 35 needed urgent medical attention. They were sent to nearby hospitals at Penugonda, Hindupur and Puttaparthi.
Railways announced a probe into the accident. Commissioner of Railway Safety (Southern Circle), SK Mittal will conduct a statutory inquiry and has been asked to submit a report at the earliest.
The Railway ministry has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the dead, Rs 1 lakh for grievous injuries and Rs 50,000 for simple injuries.
The railway spokesperson at Bangalore said that nothing could be confirmed until the probe was over. However eyewitnesses said that the driver of the Hampi-Bangaore express apparently ignored the signal and rammed into the stationary goods trains causing the accident.
Railway minister Mukul Roy is on his way to the site and is expected to reach by 3pm. Railway Board Members (Traffic), KK Srivastava, and (Mechanical) Keshav Chandra have also left for the spot.
Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy expressed shock and anguish over the ghastly train accident and directed the district collector, Superintendent of Police and the district administration to rush to the spot and take up relief and rescue measures and to provide the necessary medical assistance.
The chief minister extended condolences to the bereaved family members.
The state chief secretary Pankaj Dwivedi is closely monitoring the situation and are in constant touch with the railway officials and the district administration.