4 killed, 23 injured in Rajdhani derailment

Written by PTI | Chapra | Updated: Jun 25 2014, 19:58pm hrs
Rail accident12 coaches were derailed in the incident at around 0200 hours today, a Railway spokesperson said. PTI
At least four passengers were killed and 23 others injured, 13 of them seriously, when 12 coaches of the Dibrugarh-bound Rajdhani Express derailed near Chapra in Bihar's Saran district today, with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh saying it was too early to blame the Maoists for the incident.

18 wagons of a goods train also derailed due to a blast in east Champaran district with the SP Vinay Kumar not ruling out the involvement of Maoists.

Chief Public Relations Officer of East Central Railway (ECR) Arvind Kumar Rajak said while three passengers were killed in the Rajdhani derailment, another succumbed to injuries in a hospital,

Seven coaches-B-5 to B-10 and the power car of the Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani derailed at the Golden Ganj station, about 75 km from Patna, while five coaches, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-4 and the pantry car overturned at around 2:11 AM.

Rajak said some of the coaches were hurled as far as 700 feet away from the track.

14 of the injured, 13 of them with serious injuries, were taken to the Patna Medical College and Hospital, its Principal Amarkant Jha Amar told PTI.

The rest were being treated at Chapra, he said.

The Union Home Minister said that it was too early to blame Maoists for the derailment.

Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda said, "As far as the Rajdhani derailment is concerned, investigations are on."

The Railways, however, suspected sabotage by Maoists behind the derailment.

"Prima facie, it appears to be a case of sabotage.There was a blast on the track, which could have caused the derailment," Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar told PTI in Delhi.

"Another goods train, 60 km away from the station, also got derailed due to a blast. 18 wagons got derailed in the accident," Kumar said.

The Maoists had given a bandh call during the day to protest action by security forces in the area, he said.

Three bombs were also recovered from Dariapur bazar area in the district AND were being defused.

DIG Saran Division Binod Kumar told PTI that a Maoist hand behind the planting of bombs could not be ruled out.

Two teams of National Disaster Response Force comprising 100 officials extricated three bodies from under the coaches.

Vijay Sinha, Commandant NDRF based at Bihta told PTI that three bodies were taken out after hoisting the coaches about 10 inches with the help of jacks.

Sinha said a crane would lift all the derailed and capsized coaches to ascertain if there was any bodies underneath.

Expressing grief over the loss of lives, Gowda announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the family of each of the dead, Rs one lakh for the grievously injured passengers and Rs 20,000 for those with minor injuries.

He directed the Railway administration to render the best possible treatment to the injured passengers.

The Railway minister and Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha were rushing to the site along with Railway Board Member Traffic, D P Pandey and Member Mechanical, Alok Johri.

Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi disputed that the accident was caused by Maoists.

"Prima facie it does not appear to be the handiwork of Maoists in the Rajdhani derailment at Chapra," he told reporters.

"No trace of blast on the track or any other evidence suggesting sabotage was found so far," he said.

"It appears to be a result of error on the part of Railways," he said.

Manjhi said he spoke to the Railway minister and drew his attention toward announcement of ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the dead when the standard practice was to pay Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia in such cases.

Saran District Magistrate Kundan Kumar also told PTI that the accident seemed be due to operational problems and not caused by Maoists.

He told reporters on the spot that another train Kaviguru Express had crossed the area safely 15 minutes before the Rajdhani Express.

Moreover, the place where the train derailed was not a secluded place, but in a town with regular railway traffic. Therefore, any attempt to plant bombs or other Maoist activity of Maoists could have been easily spotted, the DM said.

Kumar also said the casualty would have been higher, if it was an act of sabotage.

Saran Superintendent of Police Sudhir Kumar Singh also ruled out a Maoist hand in the incident.

The Railways ordered an enquiry to be conducted by Commissioner Railway Safety, Eastern Circle to ascertain the cause of derailment.

Helplines were set up at Chapra, Samastipur, Hajipur, Sonpur, Barauni, Muzaffarpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Balia, Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Mariani, Dimapur, Lumding, New Coochbehar, New Jalpaiguri and Katihar.

Stranded passengers were sent to Hajipur, headquarter of ECR, by a special train from where they would be sent on their onward journey, the ECR CPRO said.