Maoists derail train, 80 die

Goods train rams into five coaches of Mumbai-bound Gyaneshwari Express; 240 injured

Maoists derail train, 80 die

Rescue workers gather at the scene of train accident near Jhargram, in West Bengal on Friday. AP

So far, 80 people had been confirmed dead and their bodies recovered while around 240 were injured, DGP of Railway Protection Force (RPF), R Sinha, told Deccan Herald. The maximum human toll was caused by the collision of coaches S4 to S8 with the freight train.

The coaches of the blue Howrah-Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Gyaneshwari Super Deluxe Express train and the red goods train remained knotted in a mangled heap along a rural stretch of track near Sardiha as railway police, IAF jawans and paramilitary soldiers used blowtorches, gas-cutters and cables to search for survivors and extricate bodies trapped in the wreckage.

The coaches were flipped on the side of the track with body parts clearly visible amidst the twisted metal. Rescue was proving to be difficult, said officials. Several passengers are still feared trapped in the worst smashed S-5 and S-6 compartments that bore the maximum brunt when the speeding goods train just rammed into them and ploughed through before hurtling them over the down track. “Rescue effort will be on as long as we don’t complete a thorough search inside the debris. We still apprehend bodies could lie trapped there and the death toll could go up,” Sinha said.

Search lights and generators have been pressed into service to help facilitate the search in the darkness. Survivors of the derailment described a night of screaming and chaos, as rescuers took more than three hours to reach the scene. As dawn broke, three helicopters from the nearby IAF base at Kalaikunda arrived to remove the injured to hospitals and a health centre.

A relief train had been rushed from Howrah with emergency medical aid and doctors, South Eastern railway spokesperson, Soumitra Majumder, said. The incident, railway officials said, occurred at 1:30 am when the train was running between Khemasoli and Sardiha stations. It was pitch dark and hence, the driver of the train failed to spot the damaged track. The area is an isolated, rural stronghold of Maoist rebels who have stepped up attacks in recent months and called for a four-day general strike starting on Friday.

Inquiry

Officials disagreed on the cause of the derailment, with some blaming it on an explosion in the track detonated by the Leftwing rebels while others suspecting it to be case of sabotage.

 “We are still to ascertain whether it is a blast. An inquiry by CID has been ordered into it. But penbroll clips connecting the fish plates were found missing along a 50-metre stretch in both the up and down lines. And that resulted in the accident,” Singh pointed out.
























Helpline numbers

The railways have opened the following helplines for information on the train accident.

Howrah: 033-26382217
Kharagpur: 032-22255751, 032-22255735
Toll free: 10722

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