39 killed as train derails in Andhra Pradesh

39 killed as train derails in Andhra Pradesh

Rlys suspects foul play; 3rd accident in recent months

39 killed as train derails in Andhra Pradesh

At least 39 people were killed and 69 injured when the engine and nine coaches of the Hirakhand Express jumped the tracks in Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram district.

The railways suspect sabotage behind the derailment, the third in as many months.
The engine and coaches of the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar train went off the track near Kuneru station around 11 pm on Saturday, Chief PRO of East Coast Railway J P Mishra said.

Seven passengers are critical, while 20 left for their destinations after treatment, officials said.

Rescue operations were almost over, the divisional railway manager’s office said on Sunday evening, adding that they don’t expect to find any more bodies in the mangled coaches.

Two AC coaches, four sleeper and two general compartments and the guard-cum-passenger coach, besides the locomotive of the train, were affected. Four coaches had overturned.

Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said there are indications of foul play as a goods train passed on the same track just two hours before the accident, which occurred in the Maoist-prone zone days ahead of Republic Day.

According to the Railways, prima facie there was a rail fracture that caused the derailment. But it has to be ascertained whether the fracture was due to sabotage or negligence and lack of maintenance.

“The real cause will be known only after an inquiry by the Railway Safety Commissioner,” Saxena said.

Home Ministry sources said it may ask the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate if the derailment was a subversive act.  “The NIA can expand the scope of its ongoing probe,” a source said.

The agency is looking into the claims of three arrested persons that the derailment of the Indore-Patna Express on November 20, 2016, in which at least 150 people were killed, was carried out at the behest of Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).