Passengers of Hatia-Patna express, which was also halted in its tracks, walk towards a bus depot near Bokaro station on Sunday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
More than 200 people had a narrow escape when five coaches of the Muri-Dhanbad Passenger derailed near Radhagaon station, 8km from Bokaro steel city, early on Sunday.
The incident affected services on the Dhanbad-Ranchi route of South Eastern Railway for over 12 hours, leading to the cancellation of three trains and diversion of half a dozen others till the filing of this report. While senior officials of Adra division supervised repairs, an inquiry was ordered to nail the reason behind the accident.
Passengers recalled their horror, fortunately short-lived.
“I had boarded the train from Jhalida around 4.40am. Barely an hour later, there was a loud clang of metals, a sudden jerk and I was flung on the floor from my seat,” said Subal Mandal. The 38-year-old injured his ankles during the fall.
“Everyone was falling here and there from their berths. It was frightening for a moment. There was no casualty because the train was not at a very high speed,” Mandal said, adding that the Hatia-Patna Super fast Express, which was plying on adjoining tracks, screeched to a halt barely 70 metres from their train thereby avoiding a fatal pile-up.
Fifteen-year-old Suchita Kerketta had boarded the train from Muri for Dhanbad. “I have a swollen left arm. I hit the seat in front when the train derailed. People were screaming in shock and pain all around. It was horrifying, but things became normal in 10 minutes or so when we realised we would live,” she said.
Adra DRM Arvind Mittal, who reached Radhagaon for supervision of tracks, confirmed cancellations of the Ranchi Patna Janshatabdi Express, Dhanbad-Ranchi Intercity and Dhanbad-Hatia Passenger.
Mittal, however, refused to divulge the cause of derailment. “Only a proper inquiry will help us find out the reason. Nothing can be said at this juncture. Our priority is to ensure normal traffic on the route,” he said.
The diversion list included Bhubaneswar-Dhanbad Garib Rath, Howrah-Ranchi Shatabdi Express, Jaynagar-Ranchi Express, Dhanbad-Alapuzzah Express, Patna-Ranchi Janshatabdi Express and Ranchi-Howrah Intercity, which had to take detours through Gomoh-Khanudih-Purulia or Purulia-Kharagpur or Muri-Barkakana.
Senior divisional operating manager of Adra Satyam Prakash said the ill-fated Muri-Dhanbad Passenger left its origin around 4am, crossed Radhagaon and derailed a kilometre later around 5.35am.
“Our rescue teams reached the site by 6am. There were no critical passengers. Normal traffic on the route is likely to be restored around 6pm,” Prakash said in the afternoon.
He too added that a probe had been ordered. “Besides maintenance and rescue operations, an inquiry has been launched to find out the reason behind the incident.”