LUCKNOW/NEW DELHI: Four train accidents in less than 12 hours in Uttar Pradesh and Odisha killed seven people and injured at least 11, officials said today.
Three of the accidents were reported from Uttar Pradesh and one from Odisha.
There were two derailments, including one in Uttar Pradesh's Chitrakoot district that killed three people early today morning, one incident of an engine decoupling from the wagon and a train hitting a car at an unmanned crossing.
The spate of accidents began at 7.19 pm yesterday when a local train hit a Bolero vehicle at an unmanned crossing near Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, killing four people and injuring two.
The vehicle, packed with people belonging to a marriage party, was hit at Matha Bhusunda village under the Musafirkhana police station, an official said.
Then, at 4.18 am, 13 coaches of the Vasco Da Gama-Patna Express, on its way from Goa to Patna, derailed near Manikpur in Uttar Pradesh, killing three people, including a six-yearold boy and his father, and injuring nine.
The Patna-bound passenger train, which derailed soon after leaving the Manikpur Railway Station in Chitrakoot district, was moving slowly as a result of which casualties were less, officials said.
According to ADG (Law and Order), Anand Kumar, prima facie a fractured railway track led to the accident "as per local assessment".
"Another possible reason being cited is that due to some technical problem, emergency brakes were slammed, causing the derailment," he said, adding that it can be confirmed only by railway authorities.
Sources in the railways said that the rail fracture was the likely cause of the derailment. However, they said an official statement can only be made after a probe by the commissioner of Railway Safety.
Railway minister Piyush Goyal has ordered the probe by the Commissioner, Railway Safety.
The Uttar Pradesh government pressed Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) into service to probe the train accident, the ADG said.
"We are not taking any chances and hence, ATS has been asked to probe whether there was any sabotage in the incident," he said.
Railway Minister Goyal expressed grief and announced compensation for the families of those killed in the accident.
He also directed Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani, who is in Uttar Pradesh, to rush to the site.
"Immediate rescue and relief operations started and an inquiry ordered into the derailment of Vasco De Gama-Patna Express at Manikpur, UP. My sincere condolences to the families of the deceased," Goyal tweeted.
He said Rs 5 lakh would be given as ex-gratia to the kin of the dead, Rs 1 lakh to those with grievous injuries and Rs 50,000 for those with simple injuries.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath expressed grief over the deaths of passengers in the train derailment.
He conveyed sympathies to the families of the victims, wished speedy recovery to those injured and announced a compensation of Rs two lakh to the family members of those who died.
Adityanath also declared that Rs 50,000 be given to each of the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 to those who suffered minor injuries in the mishap, an official release said.
The chief minister directed officials to ensure adequate and speedy treatment of the injured, the official release said.
Chitrakoot Superintendent of Police Pratap Gopendra Singh said -- Golu, 6, and his father Deepak Kumar, 30, -- from Bettiah district of Bihar died on the spot. The third passenger died at a hospital. He could not be identified immediately.
"Of those injured, two were serious and admitted to district hospital, Chitrakoot. Seven with minor injuries are being treated at Manikpur," Singh told PTI over phone.
North Central Railway PRO Amit Malviya said the coaches which jumped off the tracks were S3 to S11, two general coaches and two extra coaches.
"The injured have been rushed to the hospital and officials have left for the spot. Relief operations are underway," Malviya said.
He said that soon after the accident, a medical train reached the spot and by 5:20 AM, an accident relief train was dispatched for the spot.
The Railways also set up a helpline no. 05322226276.
Senior railway ministry officials along with National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and a medical train carried out rescue operations and provided support to victims.
In the aftermath of the derailment, movement of trains was disrupted on the Patna-Allahabad route for several hours.
Less than two hours after the Manikpur derailment, a Paradeep-Cuttack goods train jumped the rails between Goraknath and Raghunathpur in Odisha at 5.55 am.
While no deaths were reported, the down line is expected to remain disrupted till tomorrow morning, officials said.
In the fourth incident, the engine of Jammu-Patna Archana Express separated from the train near Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh. This happened twice.
The engine decoupled at around 2.35 am and was recoupled and cleared by 3.17 am. However, the engine and the first coach (same as earlier) separated at around 5.25 am and was reattached at 6.05 am.
"After re-examination by staff and senior officials it was decided that the train should be given a new locomotive to ensure that such problem does not happen again," a spokesperson for North Central Railway said.
The train finally left at 7.25 am after all security clearances were received. The official said some mail express trains and goods trains were delayed due to the incident.
The year 2017 has witnessed several train derailments.
In August this year, 23 passengers were killed and 150 injured when the Utkal Kalinga Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh.
A crash near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh last November had killed 150 people.