The Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed in Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district on Saturday, killing 23 and injuring over 150 people.
At least 23 people died while several others injured after high-speed Utkal Express derailed near Khatauli in UP on Saturday.
Fourteen coaches of the Utkal Express jumped the rails, with one of them crashing into a house adjacent to the track near Khatauli in UP this evening, killing at least 23 people and leaving several others injured, sources said.
The accident occurred around 5.45 pm near Khatauli town, 40 km off Muzaffarnagar, leaving 23 people dead, the Uttar Pradesh police said. Deepak Agarwal, Commissioner, Saharanpur Division and District Magistrate, Muzaffarnagar, GS Priyadarshi said the official figure of bodies in the mortuary was 21, while another body, of a woman, was being pulled out.
Railway ministry officials in Delhi, however, put the number of dead at 12 and the injured around 75.
According to the media report, two of the deceased have been identified as residents of Saharanpur, the district magistrate said. Priyadarshi said 90 people were injured in the accident and most of them have been admitted at district hospital, Muzaffarnagar. Some others were taken to Muzaffarnagar Medical College and Meerut Medical College, he added.
District authorities have also issued three helpline numbers: 0131-2436103/2436918/2436564.
NDRF officials said the search and rescue operations were “practically over” at the accident site with the last of the bodies presumably being pulled out from the wreckage of the coaches.
The train was coming from Puri in Odisha and going to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, normally a journey of about 36 hours.
Possess of PAC, ATS and NDRF teams, as also sniffer dog squads, were rushed to the spot to carry out rescue operations. The injured were shifted to nearby government and private hospitals.
Heavyweight cranes and gas cutters were being used to lift or cut the mangled remains of the coaches and extricate passengers stuck inside.
Large number of local people and villagers were also seen helping out those engaged in the rescue work.
Policemen on the site said one of the derailed coaches had crashed into the wall of a house adjacent to the railway track and some people are feared to be trapped in the debris.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said restoration of the rail line where the Utkal Express had derailed was in full swing.
“LUCAS (rerailing device) from SRE reached site at 2305 hrs. A full scale ART from Delhi also reached site at 110 hrs to expedite restoration. Another Accident Relief Train (ART) along with a 140-ton crane from Ambala Division is awaited at site shortly,” he tweeted.
Anand Kumar, ADG (Law and Order), said the team of Anti- Terrorist Squad (ATS) will assist in the rescue measures and also look at any aspect of “sabotage”.
When asked by a reporter whether there was any terror angle in the accident, state DGP Sulkhan Singh said so far there was no such information, but “UP ATS will investigate into the causes of the accident.”
The coaches damaged were S1 to S10 sleeper class, third AC B1, second AC A1 coach and the pantry.
Muzaffarnagar authorities have set up a control room to assist families of those affected. The numbers are: 0131- 2436918, 0131-2436103 and 0131-2436564.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed extreme pain over the derailment and said the Railway Ministry and the state government were doing everything possible and providing all assistance required.
He said the situation was being monitored very closely by the Railways Ministry.
At least 10 passenger trains on the busy route were diverted following the accident, a Northern Railway release said.
Prabhu has ordered an inquiry into the derailment. He said he was personally monitoring the situation and strict action will be taken in case of any lapse.
Prabhu also announced Rs 3.5 lakh ex-gratia compensation for those who lost their lives, Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for those who received minor injuries.
Principal Secretary (Information) Avanish Awasthi said Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 for those injured.
In a series of tweets, Prabhu said Minister of State Manoj Sinha has rushed to the spot while the Chairman of Railway Board and Member Traffic have been asked to oversee rescue and relief operations.
“Rescue operations have been completed. All injured shifted to hospital. Restoration work will start now. Still monitoring situation closely.
“Have directed Railway Doctors to visit the injured in hospitals and ensure best possible medical help.