New Delhi: At least 13 people were injured, two of them critically, after a passenger train derailed in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, a senior railway official said.
“The accident took place when eight coaches of Meerut-Lucknow Rajya Rani Express went off the tracks near a bridge over the Koshi river between Rampur and Mundapanda in the state, more than 260 km from capital Lucknow. No deaths have been reported,” railway spokesperson Neeraj Sharma said.
While two persons sustained serious injuries, others injured had been discharged from hospital where they were all admitted after first aid, the official said.
Local TV channels showed footage of the derailed coaches as well as disaster officials scanning the coaches for anyone trapped inside, and reported, quoting eye-witnesses, that the driver tried to apply brakes but the train did not stop leading to the derailment.
Police have not yet ruled out any terror angle to the accident. “A team has reached the accident site and has begun probe to investigate if there was a possible terror angle to the derailment,” Inspector General of anti-terrorist squad Asim Arun told the media.
Indian Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has said that he is keeping an eye on the situation and ordered a probe into the mishap.
“Personally monitoring situation. Directed senior officers to rush to the spot. Ensure speedy relief and rescue operations,” he tweeted, adding that an inquiry has been ordered into the incident and strict action will be taken against defaulters, if any.
Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 (800 U.S. dollars) for those seriously injured in the accident.
Indian Railways is one of the world’s largest train networks in the world, criss-crossing the country from north to south, carrying more than 23 million passengers daily. But its safety record is low, underlining the need for an overhaul of the ailing network.
In March this year, more than 50 people were injured when eight coaches of an express train derailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Mahoba district. And in January, 32 died and over 50 injured when the Bhubaneswar Express derailed in Vizianagaram.
Last November, 142 people were killed and more than 200 injured when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express train derailed in Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh.
Most of these accidents are attributed to human error or poor infrastructure coupled with inadequate maintenance. The Indian government had in 2015 pledged investments of 137 billion U.S. dollars over five years to modernize and expand the railways.