In what is believed to be the worst train accident in six years, the Indore-Patna Express train derailment could have been reportedly caused by cracked tracks.
"We haven't seen an incident like this in Indian Railways for a long time because we have taken a lot of safety measures," Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain said. "There must be a fault in the track as 14 bogeys have derailed and this happened despite regular checking of the tracks."
An unnamed railway officer told Hindustan Times that it was likely that the accident happened due to cracked tracks as the engine did not derail whereas the coaches behind it did.
This could be a fallout of "rail fracture", reported The Times of India, which is caused by expansion and contraction of tracks with change in weather. Using improper fittings in tracks could also cause a fracture, according to the HT report.
At least 120 passengers were killed and more than 200 injured, when 14 coaches of Indore-Patna Express derailed in Pukhrayan near Kanpur. The disaster took place just a little after 3 am when the passengers were jolted out of their sleep as the Patna-bound train 19321 jumped the tracks, badly damaging four ordinary sleeper coaches in which hundreds were trapped.
Of the four coaches, the S1 and S2 had telescoped into each other and most of the casualties were feared to have been in these two compartments. S3 and S4 coaches also suffered severe damage while an AC III tier coach was also affected but casualties in it were not heavy.
As railway personnel assisted by those of army, NDRF and state police carried out the search and rescue operation, the number of casualties kept on increasing by the hour.
By 8 PM, 120 bodies were recovered from the mangled coaches and most of them taken to Mati mortuary in Kanpur rural, according to IG (Kanpur range) Zaki Ahmad, who said a few more passengers were feared trapped.
"A high-level inquiry is on. We have mobilised our resources from all over the country. All our GMs have also reached the spot," said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday.
"We are trying our best to provide all kind of help to the injured. The immediate task ahead of us is to provide relief to people and help them in every way possible. I request you all to help and assist in the relief operation."
(with PTI inputs)
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