Preliminary investigations by the Railways into Tuesday night's train collision near Arakkonam point to an error on the part of the driver of the Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit.

Driver Rajkumar did not stop at the red signal ahead of the Chitheri station but jumped off the train before it rammed the stationary Arakkonam-Katpadi EMU Passenger. He suffered serious injuries and is undergoing treatment in the Government General Hospital, Chennai.

Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi, who on Wednesday visited the site of the accident, in which 10 passengers were killed and 66 persons suffered serious injuries, said the driver ought to have stopped at the signal. But as he was now in a traumatised condition, “we cannot question him too much.” It was still too early to fix the blame on anyone, the Minister said.

The dead included the guard of the Arakkonam-Katpadi Passenger. Most of the dead and the injured were small-time traders and workers belonging to villages in the vicinity of Arakkonam. Of the 76 cases referred to the Arakkonam General Hospital, 10, including a woman, were brought dead. While 24 persons were treated there, 22 who suffered multiple fractures and facial injuries and three others, who sustained head injuries, were referred to the General Hospital in Chennai. For, there was no orthopaedic surgeon in the Arakkonam hospital.

Seventeen persons, including six women, were referred to other hospitals at their own request.

Ilango of Banavaram village, undergoing treatment in the Arakkonam hospital, said he heard a huge sound and immediately smoke enveloped his coach in the Katpadi-bound train. “Several passengers fell on me, and I had to make my way out of the compartment.” Locals rushed to the accident spot and rescued the passengers trapped in the derailed coaches.

Two bogies of the stationary train and three bogies of the moving train jumped the rails.

‘No system failure'

Mr. Trivedi told journalists: “Something somewhere had gone wrong” but there was no “system failure.” On the proposal to install anti-collision devices, he said the Railways would take all safety measures to prevent such accidents.

The families of the dead would be given Rs. 5 lakh each and the seriously injured Rs. 1 lakh each. Those who sustained simple injuries would be given Rs.25,000 each.

The dead were identified as guard Raghunath; Kavitha (35) of Keezhveeranam; Raghu (22), Parasuraman (32), both of Melveeranam; Settu (35) of Anvarthikanpettai; Grace Kumar (31) of Walajapet; Muniappan (17) of Banavaram; Sivalingam (52) of Thalangai; Vinayakam (35) of Pulivalam and Satheesh Kumar (22) of Melkandigai, Chitheri.

Mr. Trivedi was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa, Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal and Southern Railway General Manager Deepak Krishan.

New Delhi Special Correspondent writes:

Railway spokesperson Anil Kumar Saxena said in New Delhi that the Ministry had ordered an inquiry and it would be conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Southern Zone, S.K. Mittal. He would be asked to submit a report at the earliest, Mr. Saxena said.