Making a suo moto statement in the Lok Sabha amid noisy protests by the opposition over demonetisation, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that government will take the “strictest possible action” against the guilty.
“There shall be separate comprehensive investigation aided by latest technical and forensic analysis by an appropriate agency to look into all possible angles. Strictest possible action would be taken against the guilty,” he said
Prabhu announced a thorough investigation aided by latest technical and forensic analysis into Sunday’s train accident near Kanpur in which the death toll has mounted to 142.
He said that department has initiated a statutory inquiry by the Commissioner of Railway Safety to find the correct cause of the accident and said that railways will soon replace old coaches lacking crash-worthy features will also be expedited.
“I had informed this House during the previous Railway Budget that such coaches will be progressively replaced and phased out. This will be expedited,” he said
The death toll mounted to 142 in Indore-Patna Express derailment in Kanpur rural area, as rescue workers wrapped up their operation this morning after efforts continued overnight to pull out the trapped passengers from the mangled bogies.
All the 14 derailed coaches of the Patna-bound train 19321 have been removed from the tracks.
“142 bodies have been found so far, out of which 110 have been identified,” according to IG (Kanpur range) Zaki Ahmad.
Authorities have handed over 97 bodies to relatives.
Nearly 200 were injured in the worst train accident in recent years which took place just a little after 0300 hrs on Sunday.
Coaches S1 and S2 had telescoped into each other and most of the casualties were feared to have been in these two compartments. S3 and S4 coaches also suffered severe damage while an AC III tier coach was also affected but casualties in it were not heavy.
Railway personnel assisted by army, NDRF and state police carried out the search and rescue operation overnight under floodlights. Most of the bodies were taken to Mati mortuary in Kanpur rural.
The victims were mostly from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.
76 passengers were seriously injured in the derailment, Ahmad said. 150 others received minor injuries in the mishap.
Officials had said that prima facie the cause of the accident could be due to track fracture.
A high-level probe had been ordered by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
With several passengers feared trapped, rescue personnel had employed cold cutters to break open the compartments.
UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of each of the dead in the accident, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi sanctioned Rs 2 lakh. On his part, the Railway Minister enhanced the ex-gratia grant from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh to the families of the dead.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced Rs 2 lakh for kin of each of the deceased.
North Central Railway General Manager Arun Srivastava had said yesterday that traffic on Kanpur-Jhansi section will be opened in 36 hours. Four trains were cancelled and fourteen diverted after the derailment disrupted traffic on the route.
( With inputs from PTI)