BENGALURU:Nine passengers were killed and 20 injured when the Bengaluru-Ernakulam Intercity Express derailed near Anekal, on the outskirts of the city, on Friday.
Three women and a nine-year-old boy were among those killed. The train jumped tracks at 7.38 am at Bidaragere village, 44 km from City railway station, and 2 km from the Anekal Road railway station.
Train No 12677 had left Bengaluru at 6.15 am. Nine bogies, including the pantry car, began shuddering and crashed to the right. Coach D8 was the worst affected as it jackknifed into D9. Of those dead, four were from Bengaluru while one each were from Coimbatore, Kollam, Palakkad, Thrissur and Delhi. All of them were in D8 when the accident occurred.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who visited a hospital in Bengaluru, has ordered an inquiry.
How It Happened
Various theories are making the rounds about the cause of the accident.
S K Mittal, Commissioner of Railway Safety, will conduct a probe and only then will the true picture emerge, a top railway official said.
However, the driver is in the dock, going by the theories. Minister Prabhu tweeted the driver had applied brakes to avoid hitting a boulder on the tracks. He retracted his statement later at a press conference. Another theory accused the driver of speeding along a curve. Some were saying he had spotted a fire inside the engine room and applied brakes suddenly, causing the train to derail.
Drivers usually slow down in this section as it is an elephant corridor, but the driver allegedly failed to do so. A breathalayser test was conducted on the driver to check if he was drunk. Another theory put the blame on maintenance staff. They had welded the tracks sloppily the previous night, and that had caused the accident, some were saying.
Bad maintenance of the train was cited as another reason.
A top railway official, however, ruled out speeding, saying that the train was running at 65 kmph, absolutely within
limits. P K Saxena, General Manager, South Western Railway, told a press conference, “I am 100 per cent sure the welding job was done properly. It is being done daily by railway staff and they are experts.”
Train Derails Near Anekal, 9 Die
Another top official said, “The speedometer in the engine room will be checked and it can help us understand the cause.”
Eyewitness Accounts: “In D8, two men’s bodies were dangling out of the train, with the heads struck to the broken coach floor,” said Binu Divakaran, president, All India Malayalee Association, who was among the first to rush to the spot.
Joseph V L, chairman of Kerala Samajam, was travelling in D1. “I noticed a jerk and thought somebody has pulled the chain. Suddenly, all of us in the compartment fell on the floor,” he said.
“We helped many women from D9, D11, and D12 out of their coaches. But D8 was shut and we couldn’t do anything,” he said.
Ashish, a passenger in D4, also joined in to help those stuck. “We heard a thud and the train shuddered. It was only when we looked out of the window that we realised coaches had jumped the tracks,” he told Express.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was the first to reach the spot at 8.45 am, said an official.
The terrain posed a huge challenge for the emergency services. Fire personnel used cutters to tear apart the steel body of the train to extricate bodies trapped inside.
The bodies were first shifted to Anekal Government Hospital and then to Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru.
The injured passengers were given first aid at the Anekal hospital, with more serious cases being shifted to Sparsh Hospital, Abhaya Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Hospital, Oxford Medical College and Narayana Hrudayalaya.
Suresh Prabhu did not show up at the accident site but visited a few patients at Narayana Health City. Union Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda was the first VIP to reach the spot.
The shaken passengers were shifted to Anekal, Hosur and Bengaluru by bus. Officials from Kerala were making arrangements to shift passengers to that state in special buses.