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Andhra train mishap toll rises to 123

Eight more bodies were fished out on Sunday as water level declined.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Hyderabad
UPDATED ON OCT 30, 2005 07:04 PM IST

The death toll in one of the worst train disasters in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday rose to 123 as eight more bodies were recovered from the badly mangled coaches of a derailed passenger train.

Local people and activists pulled out eight bodies from bushes and muddy waters of a rivulet into which the train fell, as rescue work resumed early on Sunday.

The Repalle-Secunderabad Delta Passenger train derailed and plunged into a rivulet due to breaches on the track caused by gushing waters from two overflowing reservoirs following heavy rains in the region.

The accident occurred on Saturday near Veligonda, about 80 km east of Hyderabad in Nalgonda district.

Rescue teams from the army, railways, fire brigade and police, which had called off rescue efforts on Saturday due to darkness and bad weather, began cutting through three remaining compartments with the help of gas cutters. They said 50 to 60 more bodies could be inside the compartments.

Though the bad weather threatened to hamper rescue work, the water level in the rivulet has declined sharply, exposing more bodies stuck in the mud.

Rescue workers, numbering more than 250, said their priority was now to cut through the remaining bogies and clear the debris.

Divers are also likely to look for bodies downstream.

The train derailed at 4.20 am on Saturday as it reached a bridge. Floodwaters from the two breached tanks upstream had washed away the embankment leaving only the tracks dangling in the air.

By the time driver realised this and applied the emergency brakes, the engine and seven bogies had hurtled into the swirling waters.

Railway authorities said 700 of the 1,000 passengers were rescued and sent to their destinations.

Till Saturday night, the rescue teams had taken out 115 bodies from the derailed compartments and the rivulet. More than 100 injured were shifted to hospitals in Secunderabad and Nalgonda.

Meanwhile, a pall of gloom descended on Guntur as a train carrying 43 bodies reached the town's railway station early Sunday. Authorities said 61 of the dead hailed from Guntur.

As the train stopped at the station, hundreds of wailing relatives began running frantically from one coach to another to identify the bodies.

Another train carrying 46 bodies had reached Secunderabad railway station late Saturday night. According to South Central Railway spokesman a total of 102 bodies had been retrieved from the accident site of which thirty-eight had been identified.

He said 53 bodies had been shifted to Osmania General Hospital, where 38 bodies have been identified, while 42 bodies at Nalgonda district hospital were yet to be identified.

As many as 92 injured survivors of the mishap were being treated in various hospitals in the city and in Nalgonda district, the spokesman said adding, that the railway hospital in Secunderabad, where 33 people were being treated, discharged nine this morning.

He said the railways was making necessary arrangements to shift the identified bodies to their respective destinations.

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