Utkal Express derails in Muzaffarnagar: ‘Driver applied sudden brakes due to repair works on tracks causing accident’

Fourteen coaches of the Haridwar-bound train derailed around 5:40pm in Khatauli, resulting in more than 20 deaths and dozens of others injured.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2017 00:47 IST
Muzaffarnagar,Kalinga Utkal Express,UP train accident
People gather at the accident site in Muzaffarnagar on Saturday.(Rajesh Kumar Sharmal/HT Photo)

The train driver of the Kalinga Utkal Express applied sudden brakes as he spotted repair works on the tracks, leading to the derailment that killed at least people and injured around 60 others, a government official said on Saturday. (LIVE UPDATES)

UP’s principal secretary (home) Arvind Kumar said the accident was caused by the sudden application of brakes. “There was some work on the tracks, but no flagging was done,” he told Hindustan Times.

Railway sources, however, told HT that the driver did not apply the brakes. “He felt a jerk and realised that the derailment had happened. He couldn’t apply the brake. According to him either the soil beneath the track was loose due to rains or the railways didn’t do periodic ultrasonic fault detection of tracks,” the source said.

Apparently, the engine and five bogies of the train had crossed the spot smoothly when the accident happened.

The Haridwar-bound Kalinga Utkal Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district on Saturday when the driver applied sudden brakes as some repair work was going on the tracks.

The Puri-Haridwar train got derailed near Khatauli station at 5:45 pm.

Prime minister Narendra Modi expressed extreme pain over the accident and assured that the railway ministry and state government were doing everything possible to provide the required assistance.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an inquiry into the derailment, adding that he was personally monitoring the situation and that strict action would be taken in case of lapses.

BJP MLA from Khatauli, Vikram Singh Saini alleged conspiracy as repair work was on when the train was passing.

Several people were reportedly injured but officials confirmed their numbers as 20. The figures are expected to go up.

Witnesses said at least 20 bodies were taken out after cutting iron rods of the train’s windows.

Rescue work is underway, with teams of the National Disaster Response Force being mobilised to add to the efforts.

Railways have issued helpline numbers: 9760534045/5101 94106 09434, 0121-2604977, 94544 55183, 9410609434, 0121-2604977

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an inquiry into the derailment and promised strict action in case of lapse. He said he was personally monitoring the situation and said that minister of state Manoj Sinha has rushed to the spot while the Railway Board chairman and member traffic have been asked to oversee rescue and relief operations.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered free treatment of all the injured. UP ministers Suresh Rana and Satish Mahana have been directed to rush to the site.

Senior administration officials from Meerut and Muzaffarnagar have rushed to the spot.

To check sabotage theory, additional director general of police (law and order) Anand Kumar rushed a team of anti-terrorist squad under deputy superintendent of police Anoop Singh to the site.

Varanasi-based deputy commandant, NDRF, Devendra Kumar said, “A team of 44 NDRF personnel equipped with rescue equipment have been rushed to the site from Ghaziabad.”

Since darkness was impeding rescue operations, the power department have been directed to ensure that there was no shortage of electricity.

UP health minister Siddhharth Nath Singh tweeted that the government has mobilised medical services and instructed chief medical officers of Meerut and Muzaffarnagar to extend all help to the injured.

Chief medical officer, Meerut, Dr Rajkumar stated that 26 government ambulances have been sent to the accident site for ferrying injured to hospitals in Meerut.

Additionally, 20 ambulances of private hospitals have also been rushed to the spot.

Dr Rajkumar also informed that all hospitals, including the medical college in Meerut, have been put on high alert.

Union minister Sanjeev Baliyan has reached spot.

First Published: Aug 19, 2017 21:29 IST