Kanpur– Over 60 passengers were injured, some seriously, when 15 coaches of the Ajmer-Sealdah Express derailed on Wednesday morning near this Uttar Pradesh city — the 87th train accident in India this year — casting a shadow over safety measures in one of the world’s largest railway networks.
The accident occurred when 13 sleeper and two general coaches of the train derailed as it was crossing a bridge over a dry canal near Rura station, some 50 km from Kanpur, railway officials said.
At least two coaches with passengers stuck inside fell into the canal.
Inspector General of Police Zaki Ahmed said there were no casualties.
“But 61 people were injured. Ten seriously injured passengers have been shifted to the Kanpur Medical College and Hospital,” Ahmed told IANS. The other injured were treated at the Community Health Centre in Rura.
The injured included a four-year-old girl.
The officials said they were ascertaining what caused the derailment of the Ajmer-bound train around 5.20 a.m.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered a “thorough investigation…to ascertain the cause”.
This is the second major accident in a little over one month in India. On November 20, 14 coaches of the Patna-Indore Express derailed near Pukhraya station in Kanpur. The accident left nearly 150 passengers dead and over 300 injured.
A medical train was sent from Lucknow to the accident site, a Northern Railway (NR) official told IANS.
Rescue operations led by the local administration, railways and the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) were called off in the afternoon, hours after the accident that caused heavy disruption of railway traffic on the route.
At least 32 trains were diverted, North Central Railway official Amit Malviya told IANS. The railways also arranged 12 buses to bring passengers to Kanpur and five buses to take passengers to Agra.
The Railway Minister and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister separately announced ex gratia of Rs 50,000 each for passengers receiving serious injuries and Rs 25,000 for those with minor injuries.
Meanwhile, Railways Member Traffic Mohammed Jamshed in Delhi said the number of train accidents in 2016 was 87 so far. Last year they stood at 88.
“The number of (train) derailments in 2016 so far is 68,” Jamshed said. Last year, it was 51.
India’s creaky railway system has long been a safety concern for the over eight billion passengers it carries annually. The network runs around 11,000 trains daily of which 7,000 are passenger trains.
Last year, the government announced investments of some Rs 1.27 lakh crore over five years to expand the safety of India railways that serves nearly 13 million passengers every day. (IANS)