Fourteen coaches of the Utkal Express derailed in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh last evening, killing at least 23 people. The train was coming from Puri in Odisha and going to Haridwar in Uttarakhand when it jumped rails near Khatauli town around 6 PM. About 100 people were injured in the incident and they have been admitted to different hospitals. The local administration and Railway personnel carried out rescue and relief operations with the help of National Disaster Response Force and Provincial Armed Constabulary of State police.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said in a tweet that the rescue operations have been completed, and the restoration work has commenced. He said, he has directed Railway Doctors to ensure best possible medical help to the injured.
The Railway Minister has also ordered an inquiry into the incident. He said, strict action will be taken against any lapse. Mr Prabhu has also announced an ex-gratia of 3 lakh 50,000 rupees each for the kin of those who lost their lives in the derailment. He also announced 50,000 rupees each for those who were seriously injured and 25,000 for those with minor injuries.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also announced financial assistance of two lakh rupees each for the kin those killed and 50,000 for the injured.
A team of the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the police has been rushed to the accident site to probe any suspected terror angle.
Train movement on Ambala-Meerut-Saharanpur rail route has been stopped. Several trains have been cancelled or diverted.
Muzaffarnagar administration has opened a helpline and the numbers are 0131-243-6918, 0131-243-6103 and 0131-243-6564. Haridwar railway station has also set up a helpline number. The number is 9760-534-054. Meerut Police Helpline numbers are 945-440-1587, 945-441-7431 and 0121-264-8623.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have expressed sadness over the incident. In a tweet, Mr Kovind said, his thoughts are with the deceased and their families. Mr Modi said, the Railway Ministry and the UP government are doing everything and providing all assistance required.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has also expressed pain at the derailment. She called upon Pradesh Congress and party workers to provide assistance to the affected families.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced ex-gratia of five lakh rupees each to the next of the kin of Odia passengers killed in the derailment. A statement from the Chief Minister’s office said, Mr Patnaik also announced 50,000 rupees for those injured. The Chief Minister spoke to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and sought his assistance for the rescue of the passengers. He also asked the state’s commerce and transport department to work in coordination with the railways and Uttar Pradesh government to provide help to the injured persons and the kin of the deceased.