HARDA: Water from a rain-swollen river gushed 36 feet high breaching tracks which was just 13 feet above the river bed triggering the "freak" derailment of two express trains in Madhya Pradesh which Railways today claimed could not have been averted.
As rescue operations in the twin derailment that killed 28 people were wound up, a top Railway official claimed that it could not have been averted despite the monsoon preparedness and described the mishap as one of its kind and a "freak" incident.
There was no defect in the rail bridge nor there was any lack of monsoon preparedness and there was no flood alert for this section, Railway Board Member (Engineering) V K Gupta told reporters in Delhi.
Gupta, who had rushed to the accident site at Harda yesterday, said the flash floods that caused the derailment of coaches and one engine of two trains at around the same time was unprecedented and never seen before since the construction of the line in 1870.
"The line was constructed at 13 ft above the river bed and the water gushed at 36-ft high and 200 m width which is unprecedented and can be called freak," Gupta claimed.
With the recovery of three more bodies late last night, the death toll has risen to 28, a top West Central Railway (WCR) official said in Harda.
The two trains -- Varanasi-bound Kamayani Express from Mumbai and the Mumbai-bound Janta Express originating from Patna -- jumped off tracks while crossing a railway bridge struck by flash floods at about 1130 pm on Tuesday night.
Gupta further said "while one train was stationary another train coming from opposite direction on the second line also managed to stop at that affected section. But flash floods breached the track heavily as a result of which a few coaches got capsized."
Defending railways' preparedness he said, "It was not identified as a vulnerable section. All established norms were followed for monsoon preparedness."
"The sudden flow of water was so huge that nothing could have been done."
He said though that section will be now identified as vulnerable, it is unlikely that such high tide will be happening in the near future.
Train movement has been adversely affected in the section due to the breach on the tracks.
However despite the flash floods, Gupta said bridges have not been affected and efforts are on to make one line operational by Sunday evening and it will take some more time for the second line.
WCR General Manager Ramesh Chandra told PTI that prima facie heavy rain had triggered the derailment.
The earth and other stuff beneath the tracks had been swept away in the heavy downpour and this caused the derailment, he said, adding a detailed investigation will reveal the exact reason.