Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday inspected the Bikaner-Guwahati Express train accident site in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district and said that there was some issue with the equipment of the locomotive.
Nine people were killed and 36 injured after 12 coaches of the Bikaner-Guwahati Express train derailed, and some of them capsized near Domohani in Jalpaiguri district on Thursday.
Vaishnaw said that the actual reason behind the accident could be ascertained only after dismantling the engine's equipment. He also met injured passengers at the hospital.
"The issue was with the locomotive's equipment, not with speed restrictions or tracks. There will be marks on the equipment. Only after dismantling it and studying those marks, the reason behind the accident can be ascertained," he told reporters after inspecting the accident site.
"The root cause (behind the accident) will soon come out. An inquiry into the unfortunate incident is underway. We pray for the departed souls and wish for a speedy recovery of the injured. Talks are on with the families regarding the distribution of ex-gratia," he added.
Earlier in the day, Vaishnaw arrived at Domohani railway station at 9.38 AM and proceeded to the derailment site within two minutes on a motor trolley, NFR's Chief Public Relations Officer Guneet Kaur said in Guwahati.
"The minister conducted a trolley inspection to ascertain the condition of the track and fittings. At the accident site, he conducted a thorough inspection of the underframe of the locomotive and its braking system," she said.
She said that the death toll has risen to nine, with three of the deceased yet to be identified.
The number of injured currently stands at 36. While 23 passengers are undergoing treatment at a super specialty hospital in Jalpaiguri, six are admitted to the North Bengal Medical College and seven at Maynaguri Rural Hospital, the CPRO said.
The accident took place at 5 PM on Thursday near Domohani in Alipurduar division of the Northeast Frontier Railway, she said.
"An inquiry committee has been formed to find out what caused the derailment," Kaur said.
NFR General Manager Anshul Gupta reached the spot at 12.08 AM on Friday, and is supervising the restoration work of tracks for normalisation of train movement. He visited various hospitals on Thursday night and early on Friday to check the condition of the injured patients, Kaur said.
The CPRO said that a special train had left the accident site at 9.50 PM with 290 stranded passengers for Guwahati.
The special train has reached Guwahati railway station around 8.30 AM on Friday, Assam's Special DGP (Law and Order) G P Singh said in a Twitter post.
There were 1,053 passengers onboard the train at the time of the derailment, an NFR statement had said on Thursday.
The Railways has announced ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the accident, Rs 1 lakh to the grievously injured, and Rs 25,000 for passengers with simple injury.
"Now that the passenger relief operation at the site is complete, restoration work will start in full swing for normalisation of train movement under the supervision of the NFR general manager," she said.
At least 10 trains, mostly intercity and DEMU trains, have been cancelled on the affected route on Friday, while a couple are being short-terminated or short-originated. Another 10 long-distance trains are being diverted through alternative routes, the CPRO added.