At least 52 people were injured on Thursday when eight coaches of the Jabalpur-Nizamuddin Mahakaushal Express derailed near Kulpahar station in Uttar Pradesh’s Mahoba district, the latest such accident to hit the ageing rail system.
State health minister Siddharth Nath Singh, who flew down to Mahoba, said the cause of the mishap would be investigated. Nath said the anti-terror squad (ATS) would also be a part of the investigation, indicating that the government was not ruling out a terror angle.
“The ATS and railway police are there. Officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the UP police are jointly conducting the probe. I will take cognizance and will inform chief minister Yogi Adityanath,” he said.
An initial assessment has shown that improper welding of track’s joint and oxidised track caused the derailment.
The government also announced a financial aid of Rs 50,000 each for the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 to passengers with a minor injury.
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An accident relief train (ART), 15 passenger trains and 20 ambulances were rushed to the site after which the injured passengers were shifted to nearest hospitals in Mahoba. Policemen rescued passengers from the compartments with the help of railway employees and local residents.
Mahoba chief medical officer SK Varshney said 52 people were injured in the accident. He said two passengers, one of them identified as Antram, were critical.
According to officials, 44 passengers were treated on the accident site while eight others were admitted to hospitals – two of them were shifted to Jhansi Medical College because of their critical condition.
Railway officials said the train was moving at a slow speed otherwise, there would have been a loss of life.
A passenger, Radhey Shyam Dwivedi of Satna, said the train suddenly shook after which he heard a deafening sound. “It was like an earthquake had hit us. People who were sleeping started falling on one another,” he said.
As many as 18 trains have been cancelled and half-a-dozen others diverted to other routes. Railway officials said the track was likely to be cleared for normal rail traffic by late evening but there might be a speed caution.
North Central Railway’s central public relations officer Bijay Kumar said the railways had begun a probe to find out the cause of the incident. “General manager, NCR, MC Chauhan has formed a committee of senior administrative grade officers for a probe into the incident,” he said.
The affected train left the site at 6:45am towards Jhansi where eight coaches were attached to the train.
The world’s fourth largest railway system runs 18,000 trains a day, carrying 23 million people. But it has a poor safety record, with thousands of people dying in accidents every year, including in train derailments and collisions.