23 killed, 400 hurt as Utkal Exp derails in UP

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 20 Aug 2017 09:29:11


MUZAFFARNAGAR,

Aug 19,

(Agencies),

AT least 23 people were killed and 400 injured in a major derailment when 14 coaches of the Kalinga Utkal Express bound for Haridwar in Uttarakhand went off the tracks near Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday evening.The death toll could rise as several passengers were still inside the mangled coaches.Unconfirmed reports say that 35 passengers have been killed and around 600 injured. One of the coaches entered a school building. Gas cutters are being used to cut the bogies to bring out trapped passengers.

The train derailed after some jerk near outer signal of Khatauli station. Some of the bogies climbed on each other while some bogies overturned and entered into the nearby buildings. The accident took place at 5.50 PM near Khatauli, about 24 kms from Muzaffarnagar. The ill-fated train was slated to reach its destination Haridwar at 9 PM. Exact cause of the accident could not be ascertained. The police has been asked to look into terror angle too because engine and first few bogies of the train did not derail.

Local residents said that track repair work was going and the train passed on a high speed. With nightfall adding to difficulties, the railways were engaged in a grim battle for rescuing those trapped by deploying heavy gas cutters and other equipment to break open into the coaches. Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said that 14 of the coaches had derailed, while the state police chief’s press release said eight coaches had derailed. The railways and the police summoned all equipment including heavy lift cranes and gas cutters to access the affected coaches and cut through them to bring passengers to safety.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) also rushed forces to join the rescue operation. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath spoke to principal secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar and the Muzaffarnagar district magistrate (DM) and directed them to ensure prompt rescue and relief operations at Khatauli.Two dozen people, many women and children have been admitted to nearby medical facilities for treatment. Railway officials said a medical train was on way and that trains on the route have been diverted through Shamli. Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu announced an ex-gratia of Rs 3.5 lakh each to the kin of those who lost their lives and Rs 50,000 each for those seriously injured. He also announced Rs 25,000 for passengers with minor injuries.

Prabhu said he was personally monitoring the situation and a probe has been ordered.“I am personally monitoring situation. Have instructed senior officers to reach site immediately and ensure speedy rescue and relief operations,” Prabhu said in series of tweets.“Have ordered an inquiry into the unfortunate accident to ascertain the cause. Strict action will be taken against any lapse,” he said.

The Minister said that medical vans have been rushed to the site. All efforts are being taken to ensure speedy relief and rescue operations, he said. “I have instructed Chairman Railway Board, Member Traffic to oversee rescue and relief operations,” he said, adding that he has also instructed the General Manager, other senior officials to ensure all possible help to the people. The Minister said that he was in close touch with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, state government officials, district administration to coordinate rescue and relief operationsUttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that rescue operation has been taken up on a war footing with railways and the State Government working together.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi have condoled the deaths and expressed sympathies for the families of those who lost their lives.