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Golconda Express derails, 18 dead
V Subrahmanyam and D Krishna Reddy in Warangal |
July 02, 2003 23:25 IST
At least 18 people were killed and 15 injured when the engine and two bogies of the Secunderabad-bound Golconda Express jumped track and fell off a railway bridge near Warangal town, 115km from Hyderabad, on Wednesday morning. The train had started from Guntur.
Initial reports had said the toll was highter. Many people are feared trapped in the badly mangled coaches and under the engine, which fell on an auto-rickshaw and a two-wheeler on the busy pavement.
Incessant rains have hampered rescue and relief efforts.
Hydraulic cranes are being used to lift the engine from the road and gas cutters have been employed to gain entry into the coaches.
Witnesses said the train did not stop at the Warangal station as scheduled and after a few metres the passengers in the third coach from the engine felt a big jerk.
Of the dead, 13 were travelling in the train while the others were in the automobiles below. The driver and his assistant survived.
Railway Minister Nitish Kumar, who announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 100,000 to the next of kin of all the dead, said the train driver had overshot the red signal and that could have led to the accident.
However, railway sources attributed the mishap to failure of brakes.
The railway minister has announced an inquiry into the incident.
Kumar also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 25,000 for the grievously injured and Rs 10,000 for those with minor injuries.
The assistant driver, Sammaiah, said the authorities had been informed in advance that the brakes had failed.
According to some reports, the train was then diverted along the loop line, away from the main cord electrified line, for possible damage control. However, when the train was on the bridge, it went out of control.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Minister of State for Railways Bandaru Dattatreya visited the accident spot and called on the injured in the hospital.
Dattatreya later attributed the accident to a technical snag.
Naidu maintained that the driver came to know that the brakes were faulty at Nerkonda, 20 km from the accident spot.
Rail traffic is slow but there is no major breakdown in services, officials said, adding rescue work is being taken up and efforts are on to clear the site. Medical and relief camps have been set up at the site.
The dead have been identified as A Devi, S Veeraswamy, Anand Kumar, C Veerabhadraiyah, M Kumarswamy, V Priyanka, K S R Rao, Sheikh Chinnu, Sheikh Fareed, B Bujji, B Tara, Bhagyalakshmi, Nageswara Sarma, N Dhanalakshmi, P Bhagyalakshmi.
Four bodies are yet to be identified, railway officials said.
This is the second major accident in the last ten days. On June 23, 50 people had died when some coaches of a holiday special derailed near a tunnel on the Konkan Railway route.