At least 25 people, including four children, were killed in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district in the early hours of yesterday morning when the Bangalore-bound Hampi Express collided with a stationary goods train, police said.
Over 70 injured people were shifted to various hospitals as the rescue work continued at the accident site near Penukonda railway station, about 400 km from here.
As many as 16 bodies, most of them charred beyond recognition, were found in first coach, which caught fire due to electrical short-circuiting after the collision. Seven bodies were recovered from other damaged coaches, while two persons died from their injuries in a local hospital, police said.
The train driver and his co-driver were among those killed in the accident that took place around 3.15 am. The toll may go up as some of the injured are stated to be in a very critical condition. Some passengers were still trapped inside the damaged bogies, and the rescue workers were using gas cutters to extricate them.
The train, which left Hubli at 6 pm on Monday, was to reach Bangalore at 6 am. A signalling error appears to have led to the crash, a railway official said. Such was the impact of the collision that the first coach behind the engine caught fire, while three other coaches behind it were derailed. The women’s and general compartments bore the brunt.
The official said the casualties were higher as passengers were asleep when the collision happened. All the victims are believed to be from Karnataka.
Local police, fire-fighting and railway personnel rushed to the spot and began rescue and relief operations.
Anantapur district collector Durga Das and other senior officials are supervising the rescue and relief operations. The collector said the injured were shifted to nearby hospitals.
Union Railway Minister Mukul Roy rushed to the spot and ordered an inquiry into the accident. He also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of the dead, Rs 1 lakh to the grievously injured and Rs 50,000 to other injured.
Roy reviewed the rescue and relief operations at Penukonda and called on the injured at a hospital. The minister, who reached the site by a special train from Bangalore, said, “The inquiry will be completed as early as possible and the guilty will not be spared.” Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy directed the officials to provide all help to the injured and other passengers stranded at the station.
Deadliest train disaster in Andhra
October 29, 2005: Repalle-Secunderabad Delta Fast Passenger fell into an overflowing stream near Valigonda in Nalgonda district, killing 114 people.