Five coaches and the engine of the New Delhi bound New Farakka Express derailed near Rae Bareli early on Wednesday, killing at least five people and seriously injuring nine, officials said.
The accident on the New Farakka Express (14003) that was on its from Malda in West Bengal to New Delhi took place in Harchandpur area of Rae Bareli district at 6.10 am, Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General (ADG), Law and Order, Anand Kumar said.
About 30-35 people received minor injuries, Kumar, who had put the toll at seven earlier in the day, said.
Confusion prevailed for hours among senior police and railway officials over the death toll and the number of coaches that had derailed.
While initially the death toll was said to be six, then seven, it was finally fixed at five by early evening.
There was similar confusion over the number of coaches that had derailed. The railways said five coaches went off the tracks after earlier putting their number at nine.
According to railways officials, five people, including a one-year-old and a seven-year-old, were killed. All of them were from Bihar.
10 women and six minors are among the injured, the officials said.
"It is a fluid situation and updated information is being provided by Northern Railways periodically," said railways spokesperson Smita Vats Sharma.
Four of the seriously injured are being treated at the trauma centre of Lucknow's King George Medical University and two at the city's Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Uttar Pradesh government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma told reporters.
The other injured were taken to Rae Bareli, about 80 km from the state capital Lucknow, for treatment, officials said.
A special train, which was arranged for the stranded passengers, left Lucknow for New Delhi at 2.45 pm with 1,369 passengers on board, railway officials said, adding that they were given food packets to sustain them through the journey.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his anguish at the loss of lives.
‘Condolences to the bereaved families and I pray that the injured recover quickly,’ the Prime Minister's Office tweeted quoting Modi.
He said the UP government, railways and the National Disaster Response Force were ensuring all possible assistance at the site of the accident.
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the dead, Rs 1 lakh for the injured and Rs 50,000 for those with minor injuries.
‘I offer my deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and those injured in the accident near Rae Bareli. I am in touch with officials for relief work,’ Goyal tweeted.
The minister has ordered an enquiry to be conducted by the Commission of Railway Safety, Northern Circle.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured.
The chief minister, who headed a cabinet meeting to condole the loss of lives, directed the director general of police, district magistrate, the superintendent of police, health authorities and the National Disaster Response Force to provide all possible assistance for relief and rescue operations.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Rae Bareli MP Sonia Gandhi also condoled the loss of lives and urged the government to take immediate relief measures.
‘I am very worried and sad over the derailment of New Farakka Express. Those families that have lost their loved ones, my condolences and prayers are with them.
‘I hope the government will put all its strength in the relief and rescue work, and all medical facilities will be provided to the people without any hassle,’ Rahul said in a Facebook post.
Sonia also expressed shock and anguish at the derailment of the train. She said her thoughts and prayers were with the families of the victims.
She hoped that the injured were provided prompt and expeditious medical aid, and relief, and a thorough inquiry would be conducted to affix responsibility and accountability, a party statement said.
She urged the railways and state government authorities to take adequate and immediate relief and rescue measures.
Sonia Gandhi also asked the district and Pradesh Congress Committee and party workers to contribute in providing assistance to the bereaved families, the statement said.
Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani reached the accident site and visited those admitted in hospitals in Rae Bareli.
An NDRF team, comprising 40 personnel, and senior officials from the state and the railways, also reached the spot.
According to ADG Kumar, the reason for the derailment will be known after an Anti-Terrorism Squad is sent for an on-the-spot probe.
Emergency helpline numbers were set up at the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction, Mughalsarai, officials said.
All up and down lines on the route were blocked and officials suspect that the number of casualties may rise.
The investigation related to the derailment will be conducted by Chief Commissioner, Railway Safety, Shailesh Pathak, who also probed the derailment of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express last year in which 22 people died.
All Photographs: PTI Photo