At least seven people were killed and 85 injured as a EMU train rammed a stationary passenger train near Arakkonam junction in Tamil Nadu's Vellore district Tuesday night, officials said, adding the casualty figures were not confirmed and could change.
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The accident occurred as the Chennai Beach-Vellore electric multiple unit train hit the Arakkonam-Katpadi passenger train that was waiting for a signal near Arakkonam, around 85 km from Chennai, at around 9.30 p.m. At least five bogeys were thrown off the tracks in the collision.
Though Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi said the toll could not be confirmed yet, Railway Board chairman Vinay Mittal said at least seven people were killed and 85 injured, citing information from the spot. Police at the spot and Vellore MP Abdul Rehman had earlier spoken of 15 killed.
However, the figures could change, Mittal said at a briefing along with the minister in Delhi.
Terming himself "disturbed" over the incident, Trivedi said he was leaving for the accident site, along with Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa, the Railway Board chairman and other board officials, by the first available flight Wednesday morning.
He also announced ex-gratia compensation of Rs.5 lakh for the dead, Rs.1 lakh for the seriously injured and Rs.25,000 for the others.
Trivedi refused to speak about the cause of the incident, noting it could not be ascertained yet.
"We do not know what exactly had happened... these things take time. But we will not leave any stone unturned," he said.
Noting the driver of the train that hit the stationary train was alive and being treated, he said the driver could tell them on what happened as soon as he was in a condition to do so.
He said he ordered a breath-analyser test of the driver but it came out negative.
Mittal also announced that the rescue efforts at the spot had concluded, and all the trapped passengers had been rescued and admitted to hospital.
Efforts to rescue people trapped in the wreckage had been hampered by the darkness and heavy rain in the area but rescue teams, with the necessary equipment and aided by local people, had completed the task, officials at the spot said.
According to Tamil Nadu Police's Inspector General (Northern Zone) Shailendra Babu, police and fire brigade teams had reached the spot soon after the accident.
The injured were taken to various hospitals in Vellore while teams of doctors had also reached the accident site.
The railways have set up some helpline numbers for aid of the kin of the passengers.
Some of the numbers are 044-25352629, 044-25347771, 044-25350308 and 044-25353988.
Meanwhile, some trains passing through Katpadi have been cancelled while some others have been halted at different places.