Rayagada (Odisha): At least 40 people were killed and around 50 injured, some of them seriously, when the Bhubaneswar-bound Jadgadalpur-Hirakhand Express derailed around 11.15 pm on Saturday at Koneru in Andhra Pradesh, 24 km from here.
Seven coaches – a luggage van, two general compartments, two sleeper coaches, one AC three-tier coach and one AC two-tier coach – and the engine went off the track and rammed into a stationary goods train on the adjacent track.
The reason behind the accident was yet to be ascertained, East Coast Railway chief public relations officer J.P. Mishra said on Sunday. “There are indications of foul play as a goods train passed the same track just two hours before the accident. The inspection by the patrol team also found the track okay yesterday (Saturday),” Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said. “The driver applied emergency brakes after feeling a big jerk and heard a loud sound. The area is Naxal-prone and the incident happened just ahead of Republic Day," he added.
Train survivors recall brush with death
Survivors of the Hirakhand Express mishap on Sunday recounted their horrific experience when the trains nine bogies and the engine jumped off the track near Kuneru in Andhra Pradesh.
“It was horrific and frightening. I was among the lucky ones to have escaped narrowly after the mishap that struck late last night,” said Ranjan Mohanty, Barip-ada college principal.
Mohanty, who was returning in the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express train after attending the wedding ceremony of a relative, said he was sleeping and woke up with a sudden jerk and deafening sound to find himself on the floor.
While the derailment claimed at least 40 lives, the passengers, Mohanty said, travelling in his coach escaped with minor injuries and fractures. However, the adjacent S-9 coach was perhaps one of the worst affected, Mohanty said, adding he was among the survivors who were sent by a special train to Bhubaneswar via Sambalpur from where he would proceed to Baripada. Similar was the experience of Prakash Sahu, a youth who failed to figure out as to what exactly had happened when a loud bang woke him up from deep sleep and he was flung from the berth. Sahu said he along with some passengers managed to move out of the coach with much difficulty.