RAYAGADA: At least three Railway employees were killed as engine, front guard cum luggage van and a second class coach of Howrah-Jagadalpur Samaleswari Express got derailed near Angoor village, about 20 km from Rayagada, after hitting a tower car engaged in maintenance work on Tuesday.
The deceased are technician of the maintenance tower car A Suresh Kumar, senior section engineer Sagar and technician (electrical) Gouri Naidu.
While Suresh was killed in the collision, the other two were charred to death after the engine caught fire.
East Coast Railway (ECoR) sources said the tower car was engaged in maintenance of overhead electric wire on the same track used by the Samaleswari Express.
The collision took place between Singapur Road and Keutguda at about 4.30 pm. The engine of Samaleswari Express also caught fire.
A passenger said the train was going at its usual speed when he heard a loud sound of collision. “The train suddenly stopped and we saw fire engulfed the engine,” he said.
The engine was immediately detached from the train on detection of fire and the detached bogies were brought back to Rayagada with the help of another engine attached to the rear of the train.
Senior Railway officials from Visakhapatnam rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation. ECoR Chief Public Relations Officer JP Mishra said passengers of the train were not affected as only train engine had caught fire.
Three fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the flames. All 148 passengers on board the train are safe.
Along with food, two buses were arranged to shift passengers to Jagadalpur and Koraput, he said.
Preliminary investigations revealed that infringement of signal system by Railway officials at both Singapur Road and Keutaguda stations had led to the accident.
Rayagada Collector Pramod Kumar Behera and SP Saravana Vivek M along with district officials also rushed to the spot to monitor rescue operation.
A technical team of the Railways from Rayagada was engaged to ensure no one is trapped inside the charred engine.
Rail communication between Rayagada and Koraput was disrupted following the mishap. While three trains were partially cancelled, Jagadalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express was diverted via Koraput-Kottavalasa-Vizianagaram route.
Meanwhile, the ECoR has suspended three station masters of Keutuguda and Singapur Road, S Topo, B Pradhan and Jai Prasad for dereliction of duty.
The Railways has ordered an inquiry by Commissioner of Railway Safety, Kolkata and assured assistance for the families of the deceased.