Khatauli, Uttar Pradesh: Human error may have led to the massive train tragedy that killed 21 and injured over 90 in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district on Saturday, according to locals. Thirteen coaches of the high-speed Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailed around 5:45 pm; two crashed into a residential area, ramming a house and a college. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered an inquiry into the accident, saying strict action will be taken in case of lapses. The state police said that the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) will “investigate into the causes of the accident” and look at any aspect of “sabotage”.
Here are the latest developments in this big story:
- Jagat Ram, one of the residents of the house that was damaged when the train crashed into it, told NDTV that parts of the rail track in the area were being repaired for the last two days. Locals suspect that the driver of the Utkal Express was not informed about the repair work.
- “Two other trains that passed through the area before this train had slowed down. This one did not. It came really fast and rammed into the house,” Jagat Ram said.
- “It was just some routine work. And the Railway Minister has already ordered an inquiry. So, let the report come… I cannot say anything more on that,” RN Singh, Delhi Division DRM, told news agency PTI when questioned about claims that “maintenance work” on tracks was underway.
- The train had left Puri in Odisha on Friday evening and was scheduled to arrive in Haridwar in Uttarakhand on Sunday. “It was running at a speed of about 100 kmph when the accident took place,” Mr Singh said. Six of the derailed coaches were damaged severely.
- Rescuers from the National Disaster Response Force or NDRF and various divisions of the police worked through the night with gas cutters and cranes to find survivors from the badly-mangled coaches.
- Photographs and television footage showed twisted and upended coaches lying sideways as hundreds of people try to pull the passengers out.
- Two heavy-duty 140-tonne cranes were pressed into service today by the Railways to clear the tracks. The route is expected to be cleared and traffic is likely to be restored by 9 pm, Railways official RN Singh said in a statement.
- The Railways has announced a compensation of Rs 3.5 lakh for the family of those killed, Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for people with minor injuries. State governments of Odisha and Uttar Pradesh have also announced compensation for the victims.
- Out of the 97 injured, 26 have sustained serious injuries, the Railways said in a statement. The injured have been admitted to various hospitals in Meerut and Muzaffarnagar.
- President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted to express their condolences for the families of those killed.
(With inputs from Agencies)
Angements of Buses has been done for the clearance of the stranded passengers & for any further detail contact following Helpline no pic.twitter.com/86AirnBLyp
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) August 19, 2017
— UP POLICE (@Uppolice) August 19, 2017