Muzaffarnagar: In a major train accident, at least 12 passengers were killed and over 60 injured when 14 coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express jumped the rails in Khatauli near here pn Saturday evening, officials said on Saturday.
Railways spokesperson Anil Saxena in Delhi said the Uttar Pradesh government has informed the ministry about 12 deaths and 23 people being injured. Chief Medical Officer P. S. Mishra and ADG (Meerut Zone) Prashant Kumar said at least 11 people were dead and 60 wounded in the accident that took place around 5.45 pm.
Khatauli is around 40km from Muzaffarnagar. PAC, Anti-Terrorism Squad and NDRF teams have been rushed to the spot. Heavyweight cranes and gas cutters were being used and locals were seen helping out those engaged in rescue work Muzaffarnagar authorities have set up a control room to assist families of those affected.
The numbers are: 0131-2436918, 0131-2436103 and 0131- 2436564. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed extreme pain over the derailment and said the Railway Ministry and the state government were doing everything possible and providing all assistance required. He said the situation was being monitored very closely by the Railways Ministry. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an inquiry into the derailment. He said he was personally monitoring the situation and strict action will be taken in case of any lapse. Prabhu also announced Rs35,0000 ex-gratia for those who lost their lives, Rs50,000 for the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for those who received minor injuries.
In a series of tweets, Prabhu said that Minister of State Manoj Sinha has rushed to the spot while the Chairman of Railway Board and Member Traffic have been asked to oversee rescue and relief operations.
Two National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, comprising 45 personnel each, and two canines have been mobilised to the accident site from their base in Ghaziabad. Medical vans have also been rushed to the site. "All efforts being taken to ensure speedy relief and rescue operations," Prabhu said.
The Railway Ministry was also in close touch with the Uttar Pradesh government to coordinate rescue and relief operations. In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said that top priority was being accorded to ensure prompt rescue and relief work.
Meanwhile, Saxena said, "Initially, we thought that it was only 4-5 coaches, now we have ascertained that 14 coaches have derailed. As of now our focus is on rescue and not on finding reasons for the accident." Since darkness was impeding rescue operations, he said the power department officials had been directed to ensure that there was no shortage of electricity. Kumar also said IMA chapters in Meerut zone have been alerted and asked to ensure adequate and prompt medical care to the injured.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath enquired about the accident and directed officials to take all possible action, an official spokesperson said. Adityanath has directed two of his ministers to reach the site to expedite rescue and relief operations.