Eight coaches of Meerut-Lucknow Rajya Rani Express derailed near Rampur in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday leaving at least two passengers injured, railway officials said.
The accident happened between Mundapandey and Rampur railway stations, Northern railway spokesperson Neeraj Sharma said.
He said while two passengers-- Amit Katiyar and Megh Singh-- have been injured there was no casualty in the accident.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 for each of the seriously injured passengers.
The railway Minister has also ordered an inquiry into the accident.
‘Personally monitoring situation. Directed senior officers to rush to the spot.Ensure speedy relief and rescue operations (sic),’ he wrote on Twitter.
Prabhu said strict action will be taken against those found guilty.
Adityanath also announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured in accident while Rs 25,000 to those who suffered minor injures, a state government spokesman said.
The CM has asked Minister of State for Irrigation Baldev Olakh to distribute the financial help on the spot, the spokesperson said.
Adityanath has asked district officials to continue the relief and rescue operations on a war footing and directed the chief secretary, and the principal secretary, home, to effectively monitor them.
UP police said that a three-foot portion of the track where the train derailed was missing and sabotage angle cannot be ruled out.
K K Chaudhri, Rampur superintendent of police, who visited the accident site, said the track was found broken and some of its portion buried.
"Sabotage cannot be ruled out," he said when asked about possible reasons behind the accident. A railway source in New Delhi also said the derailment was caused, prima facie, due to the rail fracture.
"Weld was found broken. But the reason of the fracture would be ascertained through investigation only," the source said.
Chaudhri said an investigation has been initiated and entire fact would come out only after its completion.
The Railways also hinted at sabotage, saying defects in the track could be due to ‘extraneous factors’ as they could not develop suddenly.
“The track was tested on February 27 using ultrasonic flaw detectors (USFD) and no defect was found. So, the possibility of involvement of extraneous factors in causing damage to the track cannot be ruled out,” said a source in the railway ministry.
The next USFD test of the track is due on April 27 as the automatic test of railway tracks is done every two months.
Track fracture is either caused by poor maintenance or there can also be man-made factors which can be termed as ‘extraneous’ or "sabotage".
Besides, the source said, five trains had passed over the track prior to the ill-fated Rajya Rani Express and the loco pilots of those trains had not reported any unusual occurrence.
The real cause of the derailment will be known only after the completion of the inquiry, but there were indications towards sabotage, the source added.
Sharma said Moradabad Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) reached the spot to oversee the rescue and relief operations. A medical team has also reached.
The railways have operationalised helpline numbers at different stations to facilitate communication between passengers and their relatives.
Helpline numbers are: Meerut (0121-2401215), New Delhi (011-23341074, 23342954), Old Delhi (011-23962389, 23967332), Nizamuddin (011-24359748), Moradabad (1072), Bareilly (0581-2558161, 2558162), Lucknow (09794830975, 05222-37677).
Earlier, police officials in Rampur had said 15 passengers were injured and rushed to hospital.
Rampur SP said seven of the injured have been discharged after first-aid treatment and three seriously injured passengers are out of danger.
The Railways has arranged buses for the stranded passengers for their onward journey.
Northern Railway spokesperson said the facility is being provided to all stranded passengers of the train.
“Water and eatables have also been provided to the stranded passengers,” he said.
The spokesperson said the railways has been able to clear one line and the train operation on this line has started, whereas efforts are on to restore the affected line.
The Accident Relief Train and Medical Relief Trains have reached on the spot for relief and first-aid work.
Pramod Kumar, the Divisional Railway Manager of Moradabad division, along with other senior railway officials, have reached the site to supervise the relief work.
A team from the UP anti-terrorism squad also visited the spot.
Photographs: Sandeep Pal