At least ten persons are feared dead and over 40 others injured in three train accidents on a gloomy Saturday morning at three different places in Uttar Pradesh as dense fog played havoc with rail, road and air traffic. Saturday's serial mishaps within a span of three hours involved five express trains. Fog was stated to be the cause of the accidents. Official sources put the death toll at four.
All the casualties occurred at the Panki railway station near Kanpur when the Bhiwani-Gorakhpur Gorakhdam Express hit the stationary New-Delhi-Prayagraj Express from the rear at around 9 in the morning. Both the trains were on the same track at the time of the crash.
The deceased– seven men and three women- were in the last two unreserved compartment of the Allahabad bound train. The guard of Prayagraj Express is understood to have died in the accident.
Former HRD Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Varanasi, Murli Manohar Joshi, who was travelling to Allahabad was in Prayagraj Express and the Congress MP from Bahraich, Kamal Kishore was in Gorakhdam Express. They escaped unhurt.
Officials of Allahabad division of North Central Railway said that dense fog was the likely cause of the accident although the exact causes would be known after the inquiry into the mishap is completed. Officials said gas cutters were used to extricate the passengers trapped in the bogeys.
Prior to the Panki accident, the Delhi-Sitamarhi Licchavi Express had rammed into the stationary Magadh Express near the Sarai Bhopat station in Etawah district at around 8.15 AM on Saturday. Both the trains were on the same track when the Licchavi Express crashed into the Magadh Express from behind with the engine ploughing into the luggage van of Magadh Express. Both the trains were proceeding to Bihar and were running behind schedule.
No casualties were reported from Etawah but the condition of the driver of Licchavi Express was stated to be serious. He was caught in the logjam and was extricated with great difficulty.
Indian Railways, ADG Arvind Kumar Jain said here that four persons died in the Panki accident and 35 others were injured. Mr. Jain said relief and rehabilitation work was underway.
Incidentally, the four sets of express trains were plying on the Delhi-Kanpur-Mughalsarai traction.
Within hours of the two accidents, the Saryu Express, which was moving from Ayodhya to Allahabad, hit a railway maintenance trolley near Tharwai in Pratapgarh district. Two persons are reported to have been injured in the mishap.
Following the mishaps on the Etawah-Kanpur section, rail traffic was thrown out of gear with several trains, including the New Delhi-Lucknow Shatabdi Express, diverted from the Moradabad route. Already, due to heavy fog many trains including Sangam Express, Farakka Express, Amritsar-Tatanagar Sadhbhava Express, New Delhi-Puri Neelanchal Express, Muri Express and Jharkhand Express were running six to eight hours behind schedule.