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Death on wheels

Mandya (Karnataka), Oct. 23 (PTI): Four women were killed when five rear bogies of a Bangalore-bound train from Mysore derailed following a “wheel disc failure” — the breaking of a wheel — in a coach.

Fifty-three passengers have been injured, and the condition of 10 was reported “serious”.

The “push-pull” train, carrying mostly daily commuters, derailed at Mandya’s Palahalli gate between Naganahalli and Pandavapura stations, about 25 km from Mysore, around 6.30 am, half-an-hour after it started its journey, officials said. The derailed bogies overturned and fell between paddy fields and the track.

The toll had been put at five by district superintendent of police R. Hitendra. He, however, later clarified that four women from Mysore were killed.

In Bangalore, railway minister Nitish Kumar attributed the accident to “wheel-disc failure” in a bogie and admitted that “faulty wheels” were often the cause of mishaps.

The most affected was the rear coach reserved for women, railway sources said, adding that two passengers died on the spot and the others in hospital.

Three of them, Sayeed Jhaseena, 27, Haseena Banu, 42, and Prabhamani, were residents of Mysore, teachers in government schools and daily commuters to their work places. Police identified the fourth victim as Majunala.

Asked why the wheel broke, Vijay Agrawal, additional divisional railway manager, South-Western Railway, said “there might be an internal defect”. He ruled out sabotage and said the coaches were not old and were not due for maintenance.

The commissioner for railway safety, Bangalore, will conduct an inquiry, a railway statement said.

Kumar announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 1 lakh to the next of kin of those killed, Rs 50,000 to the seriously injured and Rs 5,000 to others.

Minister of state for railways Basanagoud Patil Yatnal rushed to the spot and was overseeing rescue.

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