| Mangled train compartments lie off the bridge at Warangal. (Reuters)
Hyderabad, July 2: Eighteen people were killed when the Secunderabad-bound Golconda Express jumped the tracks and plunged off a bridge on to a road near Warangal, about 145 km northeast of Hyderabad.
The 118-tonne engine of the Guntur-Secunderabad express train crashed down on a busy road, crushing scooterists and passengers of an autorickshaw. The remaining 13 dead were in two general bogies, of which one hung precariously from the bridge.
Two more bogies had jumped rails but were lying on the right side of the bridge.
Twenty-three people were injured. The toll is likely to go up because many passengers are still trapped inside.
Engine driver Rashid Jani and his assistant, P. Samayya, escaped with minor injuries.
The cause was not immediately known, but witnesses said the brakes had appeared to fail.
Railway minister Nitish Kumar said in Patna that the driver’s mistake might have caused the accident. Nitish said he had already ordered an inquiry into the accident by the commissioner for railway safety (south).
“On the basis of what I have learnt, it appears that the driver of the train either ignored the signal or overshot (it). The result is two to three bogies derailed,” the minister said.
Sources said the driver lost control near Chintapalli signal point, two km before Warangal station. The train jumped the signal and rushed towards the station. Alert signal staff diverted the rushing train from platform No. 1 to a loop line.
As the train did not stop at Warangal around 10.25 am, passengers as well as those on the platform got terrified. Many passengers jumped out in panic.
Their cries and shouts filled the station as the train pushed towards Kazipet on the loop line.
Frantic officials at the station informed Kazipet and advised them to keep it on the loop line instead of the main line. The derailment occurred just outside Warangal station.
The special relief train of the general manager soon left Secunderabad, carrying food, medicines and water. The stranded passengers were brought to Secunderabad in hired buses.
As the accident took place on the loop line, normal traffic is operating on the main line.
The rescue teams managed to remove bodies of nine men, two women and one girl so far after cutting the steel doors with gas cutters.
“We do not have any figures on the number of passengers as they were in general compartments,” said district police superintendent Nalin Prabhat.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister . Chandrababu Naidu cut short his visit to West Godavari and Guntur districts for the Janmabhoomi programme and went to Warangal.
Minister of state for railways Bandaru Dattatreya and the chairman of the railway board, R.P. Singh, also rushed to the spot from Delhi.
Naidu blamed the railway for not learning any lessons from previous accidents. He said the railway was not implementing safety measures and recommendations of the inquiry commissions.