Severely rattling a 160-year-old system credited with safely reaching more than 6 million people home every day, a local train jumped off the rails between Kurla and Vidyavihar stations in central Mumbai on Sunday, killing one and leaving eight injured.
This was the first major derailment on the network, railway officials said.
“The whole train started shaking furiously and there was panic all around, everyone believing it to be another bomb blast. We jumped out of the train,” said Suresh Jaiswal, one of the commuters on the ill-fated Titwala slow local originating from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus at 11.24 am.
Within minutes of leaving Kurla station, commuters were jolted as five bogies derailed. Twenty-year-old Moreshwar Mahadik, a Chinchpokli resident, jumped out of the train in panic, only to hit an approaching electric pole with his head.
He was declared dead on arrival at the Rajawadi Hospital in nearby Ghatkopar.
Two years ago, Mahadik had left his widowed mother in his native Dhamapur village in Sangameshwar town, Ratnagiri, to earn a living about 400 km away in Mumbai. The Class 10 dropout worked in a garment unit. “He used to support his widowed mother in the village, sending her a part of his salary,” said Asha Dadas (23), their neighbour in the Ratnagiri village.
Two others suffered grim injuries — Prakash Kadam (42) got a leg fracture and Parshuram Rathod (25) seriously hurt his head. Six others were given first aid and discharged from the hospital.
Mahadik’s mother, who will arrive in Mumbai on Monday, will get Rs 15,000 as compensation from the Railways. The two seriously injured were given Rs 5,000 each and the six others got Rs 500 each.
Railway officials said the toll was lower as it was a Sunday and the trains were not packed.
Shabbir Ahmad (28), a Kurla resident who was traveling in the second coach to Vidyavihar to his relative’s place, said it sounded like a blast. “I went totally blank and there was darkness in front of my eyes. I don’t know when I jumped off,” said Ahmad, who had a bandaged head. Local slum dwellers took the victims to the Rajawadi Hospital.
Mahesh Jagtap (20), a Matunga resident who was going for a wedding in Thane, said: “I am lucky to be alive.” He was given medical aid and discharged.
Railway officials attributed the death and injuries to people jumping off the train. “Because of the derailment, there was smoke all over the place and some people jumped on to the tracks mistaking it for a blast,” said JN Lal, central divisional railway manager.
Railway officials are puzzled over the cause of the derailment as the previous train, the Ambernath local, had passed without any hiccup at 11.05 am. They have also ruled out an error on the part of motorman RK Vishe.