Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar
New Delhi/Patna: Twelve coaches of New Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express (12236) derailed near Golden Ganj station in Bihar early Wednesday, killing at least four passengers and injuring 23 others, 13 of them seriously. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs ruled out the Maoist sabotage theory in the derailment.
In another incident, 12 coaches of a goods train also derailed near Motihari in East Champaran district in Bihar. No casualties were reported. Motihari is about 60 km from Saran.
Revealing information about the accident which occurred at around 2:11 am between Chapra and Golden Ganj stations, Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said five coaches - B-1, B-2, B-3, B-4 and pantry car - overturned as a result of the derailment, while seven other coaches - B-5 to B-10 and power car - got derailed near the station, about 75 kms from Patna.
While three passengers died on the spot, another succumbed to injuries in a hospital later, Chief Public Relation Officer of East Central Railway (ECR) Arvind Kumar Rajak said.
Fourteen of the injured, 13 of them with serious injuries, were taken to the Patna Medical College and Hospital, its Principal Amarkant Jha Amar told a news agency. The rest were being treated at Chapra, he said.
In another crucial development, three timer bombs were found 25 km from the spot where the train mishap took place. The bombs recovered from Dariapur bazar area in the district are being defused.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the loss of lives. He is in touch with the Railway Minister.
President Pranab Mukherjee also expressed grief over the loss of lives in the mishap and hoped that authorities will take necessary measures to urgently investigate the cause behind the accident.
Also Read: President saddened by Bihar train accident
Railway Board chief Arunendra Kumar, meanwhile, told a news agency that prima facie the cause for derailment seems to be sabotage by the Maoists.
Kumar said: There was a blast on the track, which could have caused the derailment.”
"Another goods train, 60 kms away from the station, also got derailed due to a blast. 18 wagons got derailed in the accident," Kumar added.
Notably, the ultras had given a two-day bandh call in old Tirhut division, comprising districts of Saran, Gopalganj and Siwan starting midnight last night.
Stating that some of the coaches were hurled as far as 700 feet away from the track under the impact of the derailment, Rajak also said Maoists are suspected to be behind the incident.
Railway Minister DV Sadanand Gowda, who had earlier in the day had also said that one of the reasons behind derailment could be sabotage, later said that he was not in a position to comment anything.
After inspecting the mishap site, Gowda, however, said something did go astray.
Before leaving for Chapra, Gowda had told media that it is “not proper to say anything on the cause of the accident as I am on my way to the site.”
The Railway Minister and Minister of State for Railway Manoj Sinha visited Chapra to inspect the site along with Railway Board Member Traffic, DP Pandey, and Member Mechanical, Alok Johri.
The Railway Minister has expressed grief over the loss of lives in the mishap. He directed the Railway administration to render best possible treatment to the injured passengers.
Describing it as a “very unfortunate incident”, Gowda announced that the Commissioner Railway Safety, Eastern Circle, will inquire into the matter. Gowda further informed that senior rail officials are at the site, and another train has been arranged for stranded passengers of the ill-fated train.
Stranded passengers have been sent to Hajipur, headquarter of ECR, by a special train from where they would be sent on their onward journey, the ECR CPRO later said.
Saran Superintendent of Police Sudhir Kumar, meanwhile, ruled out any sabotage or hand of Maoists behind the derailment of the Rajdhani Express train. "It is an accident and a result of technical fault," he said.
"About 500 metres of railway track was found uprooted, but no evidence of a blast or any other explosives recovered from the accident site," Kumar added.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh also refused to confirm the sabotage theory, saying it was too early to blame Maoists for the derailment. Singh, however, said the derailment of a goods train at Motihari, about 60 km away from the site of Rajdhani Express mishap, could be the handiwork of Maoists.
Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar also ruled out the involvement of Maoists.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has, meanwhile, requested his Bihar counterpart to provide free medical treatment to the injured passengers of New Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express.
Meanwhile, Sushil Kumar, Chapra ASP, said he has no evidence of sabotage. “We are investigating all angles,” he added.
Saran District Magistrate Kundan Kumar told a news agency that the accident seems be due to operational problems and not triggered by Maoists.
He told reporters on the spot that another train Kaviguru Express had crossed the spot safely 15 minutes before Rajdhani Express.
Moreover, the place where the train derailed was not a secluded place but in a town which witnesses regular railway traffic. Hence any attempt of planting bombs or other activities of the Maoists could have been easily spotted, the DM said.
Kumar also said the casualty would have been higher, if it was an act of sabotage.
Chapra MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who visited the site of train derailment, also said it is too early to speculate on the role of Maoists in the incident.
In the meantime, Congress Lok Sabha leader and former railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge said safety should be top priority and hoped Gowda would take quick and strict action. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, meanwhile, took a dig at the government, describing the incident result of gross negligence on part of the administration as it is "still busy in celebrating its victory" in Lok Sabha polls. "If Maoists had announced blockade much earlier, why no precautions were taken," asked Yadav.
Senior officials of East Central Railway and medical team are at the site and are supervising the relief and rescue operations.
The Railways has announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of those dead. The seriously injured passengers will get Rs 1 lakh each while those with minor injuries will receive Rs 20,000 each. In addition to the ministry`s announcement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announced Rs 2 lakh as ex-gratia relief for each of those killed in train mishap.
Helplines have been set up to provide information to families of the victims and other passengers at Chapra, Samastipur, Hajipur, Sonpur, Barauni, Muzaffarpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Balia, Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Mariani, Dimapur, Lumding, New Coochbehar, New Jalpaiguri and Katihar.
Chapra – 06152-43409
Hajipur – 06224 -272230
Muzaffarpur – 0621 – 2213034
New Delhi - 011-23342954