At least 50 people from Indore and neighbouring areas who boarded the Indore-Patna Express train that derailed in Uttar Pradesh early on Sunday were missing, railways sources said on Monday.
A huge crowd was waiting to board the once-in-a-week train on Saturday afternoon. Many passengers were waitlisted and some also might have travelled without ticket, western railway sources said. The waiting list had more than 250 names on that day.
As many as 142 people were killed and more than 200 injured when 14 coaches of the express train went off the rails in Pukhrayan in western Uttar Pradesh in India’s worst rail accident in six years.
Of the dead indentified so far, 22 belong to Madhya Pradesh.
The train was travelling from central Madhya Pradesh’s commercial hub of Indore to the Bihar capital Patna in the east.
Refusing to put a number to the missing people as they waited for latest updates, western railways (Ratlam) PRO Jitendra Kumar Jayant admitted the number of passengers on the express train could be much higher than the official figure of 1,266.
“There is a huge rush every Saturday for boarding the train and while a general bogie can accommodate 90 people, usually double that number board it,” Jayant said.
He also didn’t rule out passengers with waitlisted and general tickets boarding reserved compartments. “We don’t have the exact figures at this time, and all I can say is that the number of passengers who boarded the train would be much higher than 1,266,” he said.
Vendors said there was a huge queue even before the train arrived at the platform. The Indore-Patna Express runs every Saturday and police are deployed to manage the crowd. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh residents who live in Indore have been demanding a daily train to manage the rush.
The Indian Railways is the world’s fourth biggest train system that ferries at least 20 million people every day. Crowding is common, as train travel is cheap and the network extensive, connecting remotest parts of the country.