Kalinga Utkal Express derails in Muzaffarnagar: Death toll reaches 23, scores injured, govt begins inquiry
The accident occurred around 5:45 pm near Khatauli town on Saturday. A preliminary probe indicated gross negligence had led to the accident.Updated: Aug 20, 2017 00:54 IST
At least 23 people were killed and 40 injured when 14 coaches of the Kalinga Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district on Saturday, sending coaches ramming into each other as well as a house close to the tracks.
The train from Puri in Odisha was on its way to Haridwar in Uttarakhand. It derailed near Khatauli station around 5.45pm.
UP principal secretary (home), Arvind Kumar, said the train got derailed as the driver slammed the brakes suddenly. “There was (repair) work on the tracks but no flagging was done,” he added.
Railway sources denied the charge.
The driver “felt a jerk and realised that the derailment had happened. He couldn’t apply the brakes”, one of the sources said.
“According to him, either the soil beneath the tracks was loose because of the rain or the railways didn’t do periodic ultrasonic fault detection on the tracks,” the source added.
The train was travelling at 106kmph. It normally covers the distance between Puri and Haridwar in 36 hours.
The engine and five bogies apparently crossed the spot where the train derailed.
A team of UP’s anti-terrorist squad was sent to the site to investigate if it was a case of sabotage or not.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an inquiry and directed railway board chairman and other officials to oversee rescue and relief operations. “I am personally monitoring the situation,” he tweeted.
He also announced an ex gratia of Rs 3.5 lakh for the dead and Rs 50,000 for those with serious injuries.
The railways have issued helpline numbers: 9760534045/5101 94106 09434, 0121-2604977, 94544 55183, 9410609434, 0121-2604977.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences over the deaths.
“Extremely pained by the derailment of the Utkal Express in Muzaffarnagar. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased,” he said in a tweet.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath ordered free treatment and directed ministers Suresh Rana and Satish Mahana to reach the site.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced Rs 5 lakh ex gratia to the kin of Odia passengers killed in the accident and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
Union minister Sanjeev Baliyan, who represents Muzaffarnagar in Lok Sabha, reached the spot soon after the accident.
Two bogies of the train rammed into the house of Pintu Choudhary, eyewitness Sandeep Rodhia said, adding that five people, including a tea stall owner, were crushed by the bogies.
Cranes and gas-cutters were used to lift and cut the mangled coaches and extricate passengers. More than 20 bodies were taken out.
Local people assisted the rescue. Rizwan, a photo studio owner in Muzaffarnagar, said: “I took out 18 bodies.”
A team of 44 NDRF personnel, equipped with rescue equipment, and 12 companies of PAC were sent to the spot for rescue.
Senior administration officials from Meerut and Muzaffarnagar also were at the spot.
Chief medical officer, Meerut, Dr Rajkumar said 26 government ambulances and 20 private ones were sent to the accident site for ferrying the injured to hospitals in Meerut.
He said all hospitals in Meerut were asked to keep emergency and critical wards prepared for the injured.
A separate 50-bed ward has been prepared for treatment of the mishap victims. A team of health officials from Meerut also rushed to the accident site.
Leaves of doctors of all government hospitals in Meerut have been cancelled with immediate effect. The commissioner has issued orders for all government doctors to report to their respective hospitals at the earliest.
The rescue operation was complete around midnight, and all the injured hospitalised, railway minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted.
First Published: Aug 20, 2017 00:52 IST