At least 10 passengers were killed and more than 70 injured when a suburban train rammed a stationary passenger train at a point between Melpakkam and the Chitheri railway station near Arakkonam in Vellore district on Tuesday night.

Eight coaches derailed and three coaches were completely damaged. According to police sources, the Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) hit the rear of the Arakkonam-Katpadi passenger that was waiting for signal at the Chitheri station. Five bogies of the stationary train and three bogies of the moving train derailed. About 70 injured passengers were shifted to the Naval and Government Hospital in Arakkonam, the official said. Some bodies were seen trapped in the derailed bogies. Some of the injured were referred to the Government Vellore Medical College Hospital.

Southern Railway General Manager Deepak Krishan who accompanied senior officials to the spot said an Accident Relief Vehicle had left for Chitheri. “It is difficult to ascertain the circumstances that led to the accident. We are just rushing to the spot...there are some casualties,” he told The Hindu.

Director-General of Police K. Ramanujam said adequate manpower, including a company of the Tamil Nadu Special Police, was sent to Chitheri to assist in the rescue operations. “It is very dark there and a couple of coaches have capsized. Efforts are on to see if there are any victims trapped beneath the damaged compartments,” he said.

Bodies recovered

Five bodies were recovered from the spot while two persons died at the Government Hospital. Trains on the Arakkonam-Katpadi section were cancelled or diverted. “There was a delay in relief reaching the accident spot due to inclement weather. The condition of the some injured passengers is said to be critical,” a police official added.

Ambulances from in and around Arakkonam have been pressed into service.

Chaos at Central

At the Chennai Central station, confusion prevailed as passengers crowded around help desks to know the status of trains. A special information desk was created outside the office of the Station Manager to inform passengers about the schedules of various trains.

Train cancelled

Following the accident, Yercaud Express was cancelled and all trains scheduled to leave Chennai Central via Arakkonam were deferred. Railway officials said unless the rescue operations were completed and tracks restored, they could not tell when the train services would start. Seven trains between Arakkonam and Chennai have also been stopped midway. Railway officials confirmed that the Trivandrum Mail has crossed Arakkonam.

For emergency, the following numbers could be contacted – 25330710, 25357398, 25347771.