35 killed, 200 injured as Delhi-bound train derails

Fatehpur: At least 35 people were killed and over 200 injured when 15 bogies of a speeding Delhi-bound Kalka Mail derailed here on Sunday in the worst train accident this year.

The derailment took place at 12.20 PM when the packed train from Howrah reached near Malwa station, nearly 120 kms from Lucknow.

"15 bogies of the train derailed out of which 10 are in bad shape. The exact cause of the derailment is being ascertained. The Commissioner of Railway Safety has been directed to probe the incident," General Manager, North Central Railway H C Joshi said.

He said the train was speeding at about 108 kmph when the accident occurred.

"It was almost moving at the speed of 108 kmph which is full speed," Joshi said.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Fatehpur, KN Joshi said 35 of the passengers had died. "About 200 injured are undergoing treatment here."

"Rescue workers have not been able to enter two of the bogies," Superintendent of Police, Fatehpur, Ram Bharose said, adding the dead included women and children.

While some of the bogies had toppled, others were turned into mangled heap of metal. The crowded general compartment behind the engine was the worst hit. Gas cutters and other equipment were used to cut through the metal in the AC and other coaches to rescue the trapped passengers.

"A number of passengers are still inside the bogies and attempts are on to take them out," officials said several hours after the accident.

Locals, railway and district authorities immediately launched the rescue operation. The army has also sent about 120 personnel from adjoining Allahabad and Kanpur to assist them. A team of National Disaster Relief Force was also deployed.

Two relief trains — one each from Allahabad and Kanpur — have reached the spot. Another relief train was also sent from Delhi, Minister of State for Railways Mukul Roy said, adding helplines have been opened at both the Howrah and Delhi stations.

Roy said families of the dead would be given an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh, while the seriously injured would get Rs one lakh and those with minor injuries would be given Rs 25,000.

Meanwhile, anxious relatives and friends of the passengers, many of them in tears, gathered at Howrah, Kanpur and other stations to enquire about the fate of their loved ones. However, they faced a difficult time as information was trickling in at a slow pace.

The Eastern Railway said it will run a special train from Howrah to take relatives of passengers to Malwa.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed deep sorrow and shock at the loss of lives in the rail accident and directed the Railway Ministry to deploy all available resources in the area for rescue and relief operations.

Singh also spoke to the Minister of State for Railways about the incident.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati announced a compensation of Rs one lakh each to the kin of those who died, Rs 50,000 to seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for those suffering minor injuries.

"Instructions have been issued to rush the injured to the nearest hospital or nursing homes at the earliest. The Railways would bear the cost of their treatment," Roy said.

Railway Board chairman Vinay Mittal has rushed to the accident site along with the board`s Member (Mechanical) and Member (Electrical) as well as other senior railway officials from the North Central Railways (NCR) headquarters.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who recently resigned as the Railway Minister, was keeping a watch on the situation, Roy said, adding, "She has also spoken to me."

Eyewitnesses told reporters that the driver of the train was among those injured in the mishap.

The mishap led to disruption of railway traffic on the Allahabad-Kanpur route leading to the cancellation of a couple of trains and diversion of several others.

The Allahabad-Meerut Sangam Express, both up and down, have been cancelled. Besides, trains running on the down route are now being run via Lucknow, while those on the Uu route are being diverted through Unchahar.

A couple of helicopters have been despatched to the site of the incident to airlift the injured, Defence spokesman Group Captail Amit Mahajan told PTI.

"Following a request from the Railway authorities, two helicopter have been flown in from the Central Air Command headquarters at Allahabad to the site of the mishap in Fatehpur," he said.

Besides, the Red Eagle Division of the Indian Army has also sent a team of engineers for carrying out relief work, Mahajan said.