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17 dead in Sabarmati Express collision

By Anil Nair in Samlaya
Last updated on: April 21, 2005 17:27 IST
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At least 17 people were killed and over 80 injured when the Ahmedabad-bound Sabarmati Express train rammed a stationary goods train in Samlaya, about 30 km from Vadodara, in the wee hours of Thursday.

Seventeen bodies, including that of the driver, Sita Ram, and his assistant, have been recovered as rescue and relief operation with the help of army, paramilitary forces and fire brigade personnel continued.

The Western Railway said 13 bodies have been recovered so far. It put the number of injured at 127, with 20 passengers admitted to hospital in serious condition.

Unofficial sources said the death toll could be much higher.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, who rushed to the spot, said either signal failure or human error appeared to be the cause of the accident. He ordered an inquiry into the mishap.

Inspector General of Police Rakesh Asthana said five coaches, including a general compartment and an air-conditioned bogie, were affected. The worst affected were the S6 and S7 coaches, which were next to the engine.

Local people, who were the first to reach the site of the accident that occurred around 0330 IST, began rescuing trapped passengers and sending them to nearby hospitals before official help could reach.

The injured were rushed to hospitals in Vadodara and nearby areas.

The engine and four coaches of the passenger train from Varanasi were mangled and rescuers climbed on the coaches with ladders and used gas cutters to rescue trapped passengers and extricate bodies. 

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who also visited the site and the hospitals where the injured were admitted, said, "The government has acted very promptly and we have sent four of our ministers to the site to oversee the rescue and relief operations".

The casualty was low as there were less number of passengers in the train, Modi told PTI.

While Railway Superintendent of Police Noel Parmar said 17 bodies have been recovered, General Manager of Western Railway M Z Ansari put the toll at 12.

Ansari also said, "Prima facie the accident appears to have been caused by human error on the part of the staff at B Cabin in Samlaya".

The Railways announced a compensation of Rs one lakh to the next of kin of those killed, Rs 15,000 for the seriously injured and Rs 5,000 for those with minor injuries.

The stranded passengers were brought to Vadodara by state transport corporation buses for their onward journey.

Railway safety officials and Railway police have begun an inquiry into the cause of the mishap.

Rail service on the Vadodara-Delhi route has been disrupted and several trains affected.


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Anil Nair in Samlaya
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