27 die as coaches of Varanasi-bound train derail

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Lucknow: At least 27 people were killed when the engine and two crowded coaches of a passenger train derailed in Uttar Pradesh on Friday after the driver overshot a signal, officials said.

The ghastly accident took place at Bachharwan railway station near Rae Bareli town when the Dehradun-Varanasi Janata Express was proceeding to Varanasi, an official statement said.

One of the two coaches which derailed was a sleeper class. The other was a general coach.

An official statement said the driver overshot a signal and ran into a sand bump, causing the derailment.

Among the first to reach the site were people from nearby villages.

When journalists too reached the place, furious locals raised slogans against the state and railway authorities, saying official rescuers took a long time to start helping the injured.

Mahesh Gupta, Lucknow divisional commissioner, earlier said Rescuers struggled to remove bodies crushed within the mangled coaches. Some bodies were pulled out from under the coaches, strewn on the railway tracks.

Each injured passenger was put on a stretcher and rushed to ambulances, to be ferried to hospital.

“The number of casualties is likely to increase as the general coach has been completely flattened,” an official told IANS.

Northern Railway officials said that prima facie the train driver seemed to be at fault.

“The train was to stop at the Bachharwan railway station but it did not. When he realized this, the driver applied the emergency brakes, leading to the derailment,” one official said earlier.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu expressed condolences over the deaths. The railways ordered a probe into the accident.

His ministry announced a compensation of Rs.2 lakh to families of each of the dead, Rs.50,000 to the seriously injured and Rs.20,000 to those who suffered minor injuries.

The Uttar Pradesh government announced similar compensation.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi expressed shock over the accident, which took place in her parliamentary constituency.

The accident disrupted train services on the important New Delhi-Lucknow-Varanasi sector.

A special relief train has been rushed from Lucknow, officials said. Six doctors and 20 ambulances were also sent to the accident site.

Around 100 beds were reserved in Lucknow hospitals to cater to the injured, officials here said.

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