Hampi Express collides with goods train, 24 killed

Penukonda (AP): 24 people were killed, at least 16 of them charred to death, and over 40 others injured when the driver of the Bangalore-bound Hampi Express apparently overshot the signal and rammed into the rear of a stationary goods train in Anantapur district in the wee hours today.

The impact of the collision that took place at 3:15 AM at Penukonda Railway Station in Andhra Pradesh was such that four bogies of the express train derailed and one of them caught fire.

"At least 16 persons were charred to death, mostly women passengers, when one of the bogies caught fire after the express train collided with the stationary goods trains" Charu Sinha, Deputy Inspector General of police (Anantapur range), said. Twenty-four passengers have died and the injured have been admitted to nearby hospitals at Penukonda, Hindupur and Anantapur, she said.

The DIG said the rescue and relief operations are in full swing and most of the fire services of the district have been deployed at the accident site. Most of the victims were labourers coming from Hubli and Hospet in Karnataka and were on their way to Bangalore.

"Prima facie it seems that the driver of Hampi Express overshot the signal," Railway Spokesperson Anil Saxena said in Delhi. Police have registered a case and both the driver and his assistant of the express train were injured and in hospital and not in a position to speak right now, Reddy said.

Railway and local police along with fire fighting men soon brought the flames under control. Rescue as well as relief operations are on, officials said. The injured have been shifted to Penukonda, Hindupur and Anantapur hospitals.

Railway Minister Mukul Roy, who was in Kolkata, has rushed to the site of the accident and ordered an inquiry into it. Commissioner Railway Safety (Southern Circle), S K Mittal will conduct a statutory inquiry and has been asked to submit a report at the earliest.

Roy also announced a compensation of Rs five lakh to the next of kin of the deceased, Rs one lakh for those who sustained grievous injuries and Rs 50,000 to those who received minor injuries.

An auxiliary rescue train and medical relief van were sent from nearby Dharmavaram to help is rescue and relief operations. Railway officials said the neighbouring railway track has been restored and traffic has almost become normal from the affected section.

Railways has set up helplines at Bangalore City, Bellary, Hospet and Hubli. The helpline numbers at Bangalore city are: 080-22321166, 22156553, 22156554; Bellary 08392-277704; Hospet 08394-221788; Hubli 0836-2345338, 2346141, 2289826.