At least 39 passengers were killed and over 54 were injured after 9 coaches of Train No. 18448 Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed in Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram district near a level crossing at Kuneru village at 11.15 pm on late Saturday night.
The incident took place when the train was going from Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh) to Odisha capital Bhubaneswar. The reason of the mishap is yet to be known but damage can not be ruled out. A ‘rail fracture’ with 50 cm of tracks was found missing at the accident spot. Notably, two goods trains and a patrol team had securely crossed the accident spot just a few minutes before the misfortune.
The worst hit coaches of 22-coach of Hirakhand Express were S8 and S9. Largely, 2 AC, 4 sleeper coaches (S6, S7, S8 and S9), 2 general compartments, the engine and guard room-cum-luggage van derailed, 45 minutes after the train left Rayagada station.
Around eight of the deceased were from Vizianagaram district. Travelers with serious injuries were taken to hospitals in Rayagada and Visakhapatnam. The driver DN Rao, his assistant V Meena along with the guard of the goods train, L Lakshmana Rao, had a miraculous escape.
Thirteen of the train’s 22 coaches were unaffected in the incident. Rail traffic on the coast line has been suspended after the incident. At least three trains on Rayasada and Vizianagaram were cancelled and eight others diverted. The unaffected 13 coaches left for Rayagada and proceeded Bhubaneswar via Sambhalpur-Angul route.
The government officials as well as emergency workers worked through the night in a bid to locate survivors, NDTV reported. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced compensation of Rs. two lakh each for the family of those killed and Rs. 50,000 for injured. A senior railway official will conduct a detailed inquiry into the train accident and submit the report at the earliest, a railway spokesperson told media. He added that the investigation would not rule out any angle including sabotage.