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Slow train speed prevents greater disaster

It was the slow speed of the Azimganj-Malda passenger train and the driver's presence of mind that prevented a Gyaneswari Express-like accident, which took 148 lives in May 2010.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2011 00:28 IST
Pramod Giri

It was the slow speed of the Azimganj-Malda passenger train and the driver's presence of mind that prevented a Gyaneswari Express-like accident, which took 148 lives in May 2010.

"I could see smoke from a distance and applied the emergency brakes. Fortunately, the train was running at a speed of 30 km per hour and the brakes further reduced the speed," Mukesh Kumar, the driver of the Azimganj-Malda passenger train, told HT on Monday afternoon at the Malda Railway Hospital, about 350 km north of Kolkata.

The accident happened on Sunday evening, when six coaches and the engine of the Guwahati-Bangalore Express jumped rails and were hit by the Azimganj-Malda train, which was coming from the opposite direction. This accident pattern bears a similarity with the Gyaneswari tragedy.

When some bogies of the Gyaneswari Express were derailed, a goods train coming from the opposite direction rammed into them. The derailment was, by all accounts, engineered by Maoists.

The eastern railway spokesperson said: "One body, of an unidentified young male, was recovered under the debris on Monday. The body, discovered last night, was at some distance from the tracks and no ticket was found on him, raising suspicion whether he was a victim of the accident at all."

Faulty railway tracks appeared to be the reason for the derailment. However, railway officials present at the spot refused to comment on the state of the tracks.

On Monday, 25 more passengers were admitted at the railway hospital.