Bangalore: At least 25 people were killed and 45 others injured early on Tuesday when a passenger train slammed into a stationary goods train in Andhra Pradesh, rail officials said.
The Bangalore-bound Hampi Express crashed into the parked goods train at Penukonda station in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. The train was coming from Hubli.
“The number of deaths now is 25, and 45 are injured out of which some have minor injuries but 10 are grievously hurt,” railway ministry spokesperson Chandralekha Mukherjee said in New Delhi.
The state police said the bodies of 16 of the victims travelling in a carriage behind the engine were badly burnt as it caught fire following the collision.
Rescue and restoration work being performed at the accident site after the Hampi Express rammed into the rear of a stationary goods train at Penukonda. PTI
“The coach was meant only for women but it is not possible to say if the bodies are women or men as they are charred,” Charu Sinha, deputy inspector general of Andhra Pradesh police, said from the accident site.“There are no more bodies in the wreckage as (rescue and salvage) operations are now over,” she said by telephone.
A police statement said bodies were taken out after rescuers sliced through the crushed carriages with mechanical cutters and used cranes brought from Bangalore.
“It appears that the driver of the passenger train overshot a signal and hit the goods train, but we are awaiting the results of an inquiry,” Mukherjee said.
Television footage from the scene showed mangled, upturned coaches with rescue workers carrying injured passengers out on stretchers by torchlight before dawn.
“When the train stopped with a loud bang, I got down to see burning passengers crying for help,” Munijayendra, 25, who uses only one name, told the Press Trust of India (PTI).
“I will not be able to sleep for many days to come as their cries will be ringing in my ears,” he said.
“The worst part is we were helpless as the heat was just unbearable”.
Rescuers and medical officials worked through the day, hacking through the twisted metal to get to those trapped inside the overturned carriages.
The injured have been shifted to Penukonda, Hindupur and Anantapur hospitals.
“Every life is precious. This is a very sad incident,” railway minister Mukul Roy, who arrived at the site of the accident on Tuesday afternoon, said.
The minister announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 5 lakh each and a job to the relatives of those killed in the accident.
He also announced an amount of Rs 1 lakh each to the grievously injured and Rs 25,000 each to passengers with minor injuries.
“The Railways would offer job to one person from the family of the deceased if they wish to work in Railways. Rescue operation is over and the restoration work is now underway,” Roy said, adding that senior officials are monitoring the relief work.
An inquiry has already been ordered into the incident and the commissioner railway safety (southern circle) has been asked to submit a report at the earliest, he said.
India’s rail network is still the main form of long-distance travel in the country despite fierce competition from private airlines.
The country’s worst rail accident was in 1981 when a train plunged into a river in Bihar, killing about 800 people.
PTI contributed to this story.
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