Mathura: In a pre-dawn mishap, at least 22 people were killed and as many injured when the Delhi-bound Goa Express, whose driver apparently ignored the signal, rammed into the last bogie of the stationary Mewar Express near here on Wednesday.
The Goa Express hit the Udaipur City-Hazrat Nizamuddin Mewar Express from behind between Mathura and Vrindavan at around 4.30 AM, Railway officials said.
22 people, including the guard of Mewar Express and two staff members of the pantry car of Goa Express, were killed and 22 others injured, they said. Five of the seriously injured were rushed to Delhi by train for treatment.
The unreserved compartment, which was a second class-cum- luggage rake, at the rear end of the train bore the brunt of the collision.
SSP, Mathura, BD Paulson said 18 people were rescued from the coach which was packed with women passengers and children. The luggage section of the coach probably prevented heavier casualties, he said.
The Railway officials said the driver of the Goa Express was either over-speeding or may have jumped the signal.
“Prima facie the driver of the Goa Express disregarded the signal...Either he did not stop the train at the signal or did not proceed on a cautious speed,” deputy regional manager of Railways, Agra zone, RD Tripathi told reporters.
Railway minister Mamata Banerjee, who is rushing from Kolkata, ordered an inquiry into the mishap and announced an exgratia of Rs5 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.
Giving an account of the mishap, a passenger of the Mewar Express said, “There was a loud bang. We were suddenly thrown out of our seats. People and luggage from the upper berths fell on us and there was panic all around.
“There was almost a stampede inside the bogie. People sleeping on the upper berths fell off on those occupying lower berths,” said the middle-aged passenger, who was lucky to survive the crash with no injury.
A distraught woman passenger, injured in the accident, said from her hospital bed that she was fast asleep when the unreserved compartment of the Mewar Express train was hit.
“I could not move my legs. Bags and suitcases fell on me after a loud thud,” she said. Passengers said the collision occurred minutes after the Goa Express changed track.
An eye-witness, Ramesh Charan, 40, said he saw the speeding Goa Express crashing into the last coach of the stationary train and rushed to the accident site to lend a helping hand.
Another passenger said the scene inside the bogies soon after the collision was that of complete chaos. “People wailed and shouted for help.”
A resident of Kota in Rajasthan, Saurabh Jain, said, “I opened the emergency window close to me and jumped out. On turning back, I saw electric sparks flying from the bogie.”
Jain rued that rescue operations by the authorities began almost two hours after the collision. “The injured were wailing. There was no ambulance to ferry them to the nearest medical centres till 06:45 AM,” he said.