At least 25 passengers were killed and 55 injured after the Hubli-Bangalore Hampi Express overshot a signal and rammed a stationary goods train near a station in Andhra Pradesh around 3.10am on Tuesday.
Railway officials said the engine and four bogies of the express train were derailed after it crashed into the rear of the goods train about 100 metres from the Penukonda station, 400 km southwest of Hyderabad, in Anantapur district.
Within seconds, fire broke out in the first coach behind the engine. Rescuers recovered 16 charred bodies from this coach and five more from the third coach. Among those rushed to hospitals, four succumbed to injuries and the condition of 10 is stated to be critical.
Passengers in the second coach miraculously escaped with injuries. Rescuers used gas cutters to rip open the mangled coaches. Fire engines took more than three hours to douse the fire. South Western Railway arranged buses and trains for stranded passengers.
Penukonda station, about 130 km northeast of Bangalore, is on the route through which Karnataka’s floating population from the north heads to the state capital for work.
One of the survivors, Jabbar Mohammed, said, “Most of the victims are daily wage labourers from Hospet and Bellary regions.”
The railway ministry announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of each of the deceased, Rs 1 lakh to each of the grievously injured and Rs 50,000 each for those who received minor injuries.
Railways minister Mukul Roy, who visited the site, said, “Railways will offer job to one person (each) from the families of the deceased.”
Karnataka CM DV Sadananda Gowda announced R1 lakh compensation to the next of kin of the deceased and R25,000 each for the injured.
The railways has ordered a probe into the mishap. “It seems the driver (who is in hospital) of the Hampi Express overshot the signal,” railways spokesperson Anil Saxena said in Delhi.