A goods train rammed into a stationary passenger train at Badarwas railway station in Madhya Pradesh on Monday morning, killing at least 21 people and injuring 52.
The head-on collision took place around 4.30 am when the Gwalior-Indore Intercity Express was waiting at the Bina-Guna line, around 50 km from here, for the goods train to pass.
Although drivers of both the trains survived the collision, the first three bogies of the passenger train were badly damaged and piled on top of each other by the force of the collision. Passengers were trapped in the mangled coaches.
Rescue operations were hampered by heavy rain.
Two army helicopters also helped in relief operations. One of the choppers airlifted two critically injured passengers to Jhansi for treatment. The other injured passengers were admitted to Guna District Hospital and Shukri Hospital.
Authorities have ordered an inquiry by Commissioner of Railway Safety Chetan Bakshi. Vinay Mittal, general manager of Western Central Railways, said the accident seemed to have been caused by human error. “The goods train driver appeared to have jumped the signal at the station as the cabin man had not yet changed the track for the train,” he said.
The Badarwas station wasn’t a scheduled halt for the passenger train. It was stopped to let the goods train pass along a second track. But the cabin man, who signalled the goods train, might have forgotten to change the track, officials said.
The police arrested stationmaster Rajendra Karare, who was allegedly drunk when the accident took place. The blood samples of the two drivers have also been sent for tests.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased, and Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000 for those with serious and minor injuries. The government has also promised jobs to kin of those killed.