The country’s fifth major train accident of the year on Sunday turned out to be the worst, with at least 43 passengers being killed and more than 300 injured when the engine and 15 coaches of the Delhi-bound Kalka Mail were derailed in Uttar Pradesh around noon.
The accident took place near Malwa station in Fatehpur district, 120 km from Lucknow. The toll is expected to rise as rescue workers were still trying to enter two coaches late on Sunday night.The railway authorities have ordered an enquiry to ascertain how the accident took place.
Driver AK Singh, who was among the injured, could not recall the events coherently. He told officials that the train, which was moving at a speed of around 110 km per hour, suddenly went out of control, said Sandeep Mathur, chief public relations officer of North Central Railway.
The authorities said the accident could have been caused either by application of emergency brakes or a seizure in the engine wheels as sparks were seen flying from them.
Some officials, however, said even a sudden application of emergency brakes cannot cause derailment of such a large magnitude.
Ill-equipped to carry out a rescue operation on such a large scale, the local administration had to call in the army. It took more than an hour for help to arrive, by which time passengers and locals had begun to pull out injured passengers from the mangled coaches.
In absence of proper transportation, the injured had to walk 5 km to reach the main road, from where they were taken to hospitals by private vehicles.