27 killed as Varanasi-bound train derails



At least 27 people were killed when the engine and two crowded coaches of a passenger train derailed after the driver overshot a signal early Friday in Uttar Pradesh, officials said.

More than 100 others were injured, many seriously, in the ghastly accident at Bachharwan railway station near Rae Bareli when the Dehradun-Varanasi Janata Express was proceeding to Varanasi.

The train was to halt at Bachharwan, a small station. But the driver didn't stop. When he realized the folly and applied the emergency brakes, the engine and the coaches went off the tracks, officials said.

An official statement said the derailment took place when the train hit a sand bump.

One of the two coaches which derailed was a sleeper class. The other was a general coach. Both were packed with commuters.

As the badly injured passengers screamed in pain, the first to reach the site were people from nearby villages.

But one of the two coaches was so mangled that rescue work could not take place until officials arrived.

When journalists too reached the place, furious locals raised slogans against the state and railway authorities, saying official rescuers took a long time to start pulling out the bleeding passengers.

Some bodies were taken out from under the coaches, strewn on the railway tracks.

Each injured passenger was put on a stretcher and rushed to ambulances, to be ferried to hospitals in Rae Bareli and Lucknow, about 65 km away.

"The number of casualties is likely to increase as the general coach has been completely flattened," an official earlier told IANS.

President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in whose Lok Sabha constituency the accident took place, mourned the loss of lives.

Mahesh Gupta, the divisional commissioner of Lucknow, told IANS that 27 people perished in the disaster.

Northern Railway officials said that prima facie the train driver seemed to be at fault.

"The train was to stop at the Bachharwan station but it did not. When he realized this, the driver applied the emergency brakes, leading to the derailment," one official said.

The railways ordered a probe into the accident.

The railway ministry announced a compensation of Rs.2 lakh to families of each of the dead, Rs.50,000 to the seriously injured and Rs.20,000 to those who suffered minor injuries.

The Uttar Pradesh government announced similar compensation.

The accident disrupted train services on the important New Delhi-Lucknow-Varanasi sector.

A special relief train was rushed from Lucknow. Officials said six doctors and 20 ambulances were also sent to the accident site.

Buses were also despatched to the place to ferry the stranded passengers.

As news of the accident reached Lucknow, around 100 beds were reserved in the city's hospitals to cater to the injured, officials told IANS.

Twenty-two people were killed when a passenger train rammed into a stationary train in Sant Kabir Nagar district, also in Uttar Pradesh, on May 26, 2014. - IANS