Two British women were killed and 13 others injured when three carriages of a chartered toy train that was carrying a group of tourists derailed while negotiating a turn near Parwanoo on the Kalka-Shimla narrow gauge section, a UNESCO heritage track.
The mishap took place between Kalka and Taksal stations. The Shimla-bound special train had left Kalka station at 12.45 pm. "At 12.58 pm, we received a message that the train has derailed. The accident spot is nearly 3 km from the Kalka station," said Kalka station superintendent Vinay Arora.
"Of the four coaches, three got derailed. The engine of the train is safe but its first three bogies were damaged. The fourth bogie is also safe," said Arora."The deceased has been identified as Joan Nicholas, 71, and Loraine Marie Tonner, 55," said Ambala divisional railway manager (DRM) Dinesh Kumar.
An injured British National being taken to Max Super Specialty Hospital in SAS Nagar for treatment. Gurminder Singh/HT
The injured were taken to Max Hospital in SAS Nagar after being treated briefly at ESI Hospital at Parwanoo while the bodies were shifted to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. Of the 13 injured, three UK nationals --- Diane Logan, George Bertram and Andrew Summerhayes --- were admitted to Max hospital while the rest were discharged after first aid.
Preliminary reports suggest that the accident might have taken place due to over-speeding. Talking to HT, Stephen, a passenger from London, said, "The train was going too fast." Train driver Dhan Singh, however, said. "I was driving at 20-22 km/hr. I don't know what happened." The Railways has ordered a probe into the accident.
Bogey No.2 bears maximum brunt
The bogie number 635 was almost crushed from one side. The accident spot is inaccessible from road as a result it took some time for officials to evacuate the injured. Dr Poonam Katoch of railway health unit was the first one to reach the spot with an emergency coach. Another tourist Pauline Lloyd, 68, who is from Lancashire, said, "We were chatting with each other when suddenly our coach titled and veered off track. We were shocked. My husband Peter Lloyd has suffered a shoulder injury."
ESI hospital medical superintendent Dr Vinod Kapil said: "As many as 13 injured were brought to our hospital. All injured were referred to Max Hospital as per the directions of railway authorities. The remaining tourists were shifted to a Panchkula hotel by 5 pm from Kalka railway station in cabs.
Railway officials are using hydraulic jacks to clear the area. The trip was organised through IRCTC. (With inputs from HTC Chandigarh)
Shivalik Deluxe, which starts at 5:45 pm from Shimla
Mail Express, which starts at 6:15 pm from Shimla
Down Mix Train, which was to reach Kalka at 2:30 pm, short-terminated at Koti
Himalayan Queen, which was to reach Kalka at 4:05 pm, short-terminated at Dharampur
Rail Car, which was to reach Kalka at 9 pm, short-terminated at Dharampur