Sunday, 3 November 2013

Train accident triggered by a rumour in Andhra Pradesh's Vizianagaram District, 7 identified

At least nine passengers of the Alleppey-Dhanbad Express were mowed down by another train on a parallel track this evening after they had pulled the emergency chain and got off following what appears a false fire alarm.

The toll, which includes two children and four women, could rise because “severed body parts” were still strewn around in pitch darkness, police said in Vizianagaram district, where the tragedy happened at a spot 693km from Hyderabad.

Eight bodies have so far been found on the tracks —which an eyewitness said resembled a place “hit by a cyclone” — and one of the 10 heavily injured died in hospital, Vizianagaram collector Kantilal Dande said.

“Even the injured are heavily mutilated,” a senior police officer said.

Investigations have shown there was no fire in the Bokaro-bound express, suggesting “a rumour” had sparked the scare and led to the 7.15pm tragedy, an Eastern Railway spokesperson said tonight.

Many passengers had got off the S1 and S2 compartments and, in the dark countryside landscape, failed to realise that the Rayagada-Vijayawada Passenger was hurtling down the parallel line, an East Coast Railway spokesperson said.

Manoj Kumar, a passenger, said he had pushed wife Shweta Singh, 33, and daughters Shourya, 2, and Samhita, 10, out of the train after the fire scare only to watch them come under a running train.

“I couldn’t do anything,” a dazed Manoj, who was returning home from Bangalore to Aurangabad in Bihar, said. A fourth dead passenger has been identified as Karthik Sahu from Odisha.

Had the passengers waited a couple of minutes, their train would have reached Gotlam station, 8km from Vizianagaram town, and they could have pulled the chain and got off on the platform. Neither train stops at Gotlam.

Anntaraman, a hotel owner in Vizianagaram town, said he had reached the spot shortly after the accident and seen bodies and body parts on the tracks and under a train.

“It seemed as if the train and tracks had been hit by a cyclone,” he said. “Some of the bodies had been dragged almost half a kilometre.”

The railways have ordered an inquiry.

A similar horror had taken place just over two months ago at a Bihar station, when an express train had mowed down 28 passengers who had walked into its path after getting off two other trains on either side.

The August 19 accident at Dhamara Ghat happened because the station had three tracks but just one platform, and passengers risked their lives every day crossing the lines.

Vizianagaram police said they would continue their search for bodies “till tomorrow morning” over a stretch up to 2km from the accident spot. A relief train from Visakhapatnam has been sent to Gotlam with medicines and doctors.

Railway sources said the accident spot fell in a 50km stretch from Vizianagaram to Berhampur in Odisha that was known as a “danger zone” because it witnessed railway accidents every other day.

“But this is the first time there has been a heavy death toll,” said Panduranga Rao, a railway employee at Gotlam.

Sources said the Alleppey-Dhanbad Express was known as “Smugglers’ Train” in the region because rice, drug and liquor smugglers stopped it and got in wherever they wanted.

Seven of the Bokaro Express passengers who were run over by another train near Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh Saturday night have been identified, police said.

All the bodies were shifted to railway hospital at Visakhapatnam.

One of the two injured is in critical condition.

Sunday 03 November 2013


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