Rajdhani derails, 12 injured - Maoist sabotage or poor maintenance of tracks stated as reasons for accident

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT WITH INPUTS FROM GUWAHATI
  • Published 26.05.10
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Patna, May 25: Twelve passengers of a Dibrugarh-bound Rajdhani Express escaped with minor injuries when 14 of the train’s coaches derailed about 300km from Patna early this morning.

The railway administration and the police issued two different versions regarding the reason of the mishap.

While the railway authorities suspected “Maoist-sponsored sabotage involving the damage on the two-metre stretch of the tracks” as the reason of the accident, the police attributed it to the “poor maintenance of tracks” aggravated by nightlong heavy rainfall.

The chief public relations officer of East-Central Railway, Dilip Kumar, said the passengers who had suffered “very minor injuries” had been released after first aid at the site of the derailment.

The officer said the derailment took place near Amba village between Kharik and Naugachhia stations under the Sonepur division of East Central Railway at 6.30am when the driver applied emergency brakes after hearing the sound of an explosion on the tracks. “The technical experts who later inspected the site of the mishap found damage on the tracks which might have been caused by the rebels”.

Dilip Kumar, however, said the actual reason of the accident was yet to be ascertained and an inquiry has been ordered.

The commissioner of railway safety, eastern circle, under the ministry of civil aviation, R.P. Yadav, will conduct the statutory inquiry at Naugachia and Barauni tomorrow.

The railways invited “persons having knowledge on the accident/incident to depose before the inquiry”.

The additional director general of railway police, Shafi Alam, said “poor maintenance” of the track might have led to the derailment. The official pointed out that heavy rainfall had loosened the soft soil in the state’s riverine area which might have sunk a portion of the tracks.

Three passengers had died after the Amrapali Express derailed at Pasaraha, only 30km from the site of the Rajdhani Express mishap site last year because of similar reasons.

Following today’s accident, the Northeast Frontier Railway cancelled some trains and short terminated a couple of others.

The cancelled trains are the 2423Down Rajdhani Express, scheduled to leave Guwahati at 7.05am tomorrow, 2424A Link Rajdhani Express scheduled to leave Guwahati for Dibrugarh this evening, 2423A Link Rajdhani Express scheduled to leave Dibrugarh this evening and the 0547 Katihar-Dibrugarh Summer Special train scheduled to leave Katihar this afternoon.

The NFR terminated the 3163 Hate Bazare Express at Katihar while the 3164 Hate Bazare Express will now originate from Katihar instead of Saharsa Junction.

The railways also cancelled four trains and diverted three others following the accident. They include the Up and Down Katihar-Tatanagar Link Express, 320Down Samastipur-Katihar Express and 319Up Katihar-Darbhanga passenger train.

Senior railway officials, including general manager Varun Bharthuwar, rushed to the site and requisitioned a crane and other equipment to clear the lines and carry out rescue operations. A forensic team from Patna was also rushed to the site.

The railways opened the following helplines to respond to passengers’ query: 0627923222 (Barauni), 06244222049 (Khagaria), 06421223152 (Naugachhia), 06224274508 (Barauni) and 06421268238 (Bihpur police station).

The Northeast Frontier Railway said the stranded passengers of the derailed train were being ferried by a special relief train with 17 bogies from Naugachia to Dibrugarh town with the same stops as the Rajdhani Express.

“The train is expected to reach Guwahati only tomorrow morning,” an NFR spokesperson said.