First bogie catches fire in the impact; adjoining coaches derail

In one of the worst accidents in Andhra Pradesh in recent years, 25 people were killed and dozens injured when the Bangalore-bound Hampi Express rammed a stationary goods train just outside the railway station here in the early hours of Tuesday.

Train No. 16591 was proceeding from Hubli to Bangalore and most passengers were asleep when it hit the Mysore New Goods Terminal goods train at 3.10 a.m.

The impact was so severe that the bogie next to the engine caught fire, while the second, third and fourth bogies derailed. Severed limbs and burnt bodies were seen at the site. Thirteen of the victims were charred to death.

Distressing scenes

Heart-rending scenes were witnessed as several passengers were trapped inside the mangled bogies. A little girl, looking dazed, was seen amid half a dozen bodies in her coach. Workers had to use gas torches to cut open the bogie and pull out the bodies and the passengers.

Penukonda Deputy Superintendent of Police Kolar Krishna, who received the first distress call, was at the spot within minutes with his men after informing the fire department. However, the fire had done major damage before it was brought under control — passengers in the first bogie were engulfed in flames. Mr. Krishna said most of the dead were travelling in the first and second coaches. Railway and police personnel transported the other passengers in eight buses to Bangalore.

Ex-gratia announced

Railway Minister Mukul Roy and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy were among the leaders who visited the accident site. After inspecting the damage, Mr. Roy said the Commissioner of Railway Safety would order an inquiry and those responsible for the accident would not be spared. He announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 5 lakh each for the kin of those who lost their lives, Rs. 1 lakh for those severely injured and Rs. 25,000 for those with comparatively minor injuries.

Among the first to reach the spot were State Revenue Minister N. Raghuveera Reddy and Congress MPs K. Chiranjeevi and Anantha Venkatarami Reddy. The Minister visited the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences in Puttaparthi, where some of the injured were being treated.

Combination of mistakes

The Divisional Railway Manager of the South Western Railway, headquartered in Bangalore, said the incident might have been the result of a combination of mistakes by signalling personnel as well as the driver of the train.

PTI adds:

Railways has set up helplines at Bangalore City, Bellary, Hospet and Hubli.

The helpline numbers at Bangalore city are 080—22321166, 22156553, 22156554; Bellary 08392—277704; Hospet 08394—221788; Hubli 0836—2345338, 2346141, 2289826.