Heavy flooding and a swollen river in Madhya Pradesh led to the derailment of two trains resulting in the death of at least 29 people, which included eleven women and five children. In the probe so far, more than 17 coaches and an engine of two trains, one headed to Mumbai and other to Varanasi, were derailed near Harda, 160 kilometres away from Bhopal late on Tuesday night.
In rescue efforts launched by the Railway’s accident relief team, over 250 passengers have been rescued so far. Few passengers are also reported to have been missing. Several passengers have suffered injuries as well.
The centre has also sent a 35-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team to join the rescue efforts.
According to authorities, ten coaches of Kamayani Express, running from Mumbai to Varanasi, and seven bogies plus the engine of the Mumbai-Jabalpur Janata Express derailed at 11 PM Tuesday night as the base material on the tracks got washed away due to flooding of the train tracks, not far from Machak river.
“Twenty nine bodies, including those of 13 men, 11 women and five children, have been recovered so far from the mishap site between Khirkiya and Harda, about 160 kms from Bhopal,” Madhya Pradesh government spokesman Anupam Rajan told the press.
The authorities in the government and the rescue teams are not ruling out the fear of death toll going up.
Meanwhile, the accident relief train has reached the spot and several passengers have been brought to the nearby Harda station.
The Union Railway Ministry has ordered an inquiry into the twin derailments and announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakhs to the next of the kin of the deceased, Rs 50,000 to the grievously injured and 25,000 to those who sustained minor injuries. Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said all efforts are underway to rescue the passengers and top officials have been rushed to the site.
Apprising both the houses of the Parliament, Suresh Prabhu said, “the prima-facie cause of the incident is stated to be flash floods due to heavy rains.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too expressed grief over the incident.
“The two train accidents in Madhya Pradesh are deeply distressing. Deeply pained over the loss of lives. Condolences to families of deceased,” the Prime Minister wrote on a micro-blogging site Twitter.
Early on Wednesday, Rajya Sabha had also observed mournful silence for those who have lost their lives on Tuesday night twin train derailments.
Indian Railways has also operationalised various helpline numbers for the families of the passengers – Itarsi – 0757 2241920, Bhopal – 0755 4001609, Harda – 07577 236081, Bina -07580221362.
(With inputs from the PTI)