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Death toll in derailment scaled down to 9

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People gather around the derailed bogies of the Coromandel Express on the outskirts of the Jajpur Road railway station, 130 km from Bhubaneswar, on Saturday.
People gather around the derailed bogies of the Coromandel Express on the outskirts of the Jajpur Road railway station, 130 km from Bhubaneswar, on Saturday.

Prafulla Das

Railways to pay Rs.5 lakh to next of kin of those killed; high-level inquiry ordered

JAJPUR ROAD: Railway authorities on Saturday scaled down the death toll in the derailment of the Coromandel Express to nine from the earlier 15. More than 150 people were injured in the accident.

The Chennai-bound train derailed near the Jajpur-Keonjhar Road Station on Friday night.

The railway authorities struggled to cope with the situation at the accident site. It would take at least two more days to repair the two tracks at the derailment site, a railway official said.

Union Minister of State for Railways R. Velu reached the spot on Saturday morning to take stock of the situation. A high-level inquiry had been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident, he said.

A mechanical engineer from Chennai who escaped with injuries squarely blamed the railways. “Poor condition of the tracks and overloading of the high-speed train must have caused the accident,” he said.

Mr. Velu also visited a government hospital at Jajpur Road and the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack to find out about the treatment of the injured passengers.

The Minister said the Railways would pay Rs.5 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed in the accident and a job each to the family of those killed.

Apart from providing free medical treatment, the Railways will pay Rs.50,000 each to those seriously injured and Rs.10,000 to other injured passengers.

Apart from Mr. Velu, dignitaries who visited the accident site and the hospitals include Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee president K.P. Singh Deo, Ministers of the State, and a number of politicians belonging to various parties.

Helping hands

What helped save many lives after the accident was the timely action of the local residents.

The accident occurred at 7.50 p.m. and the residents of the adjacent residential colonies and villages reached the spot within minutes.

“I was sitting inside our hut and my wife was cooking when we heard a loud sound. I was sure that it was a train accident and I rushed to the spot with two bottles of drinking water,” said Laxman Hembram, a labourer who lived about 200 metres away from the railway line.

According to Mr. Hembram, initially it was not easy to reach the train as the whole place was full of dust. Soon people from both sides of the railway line reached the spot and in darkness, they started rescuing hundreds of passengers trapped inside the derailed coaches. Lights were brought later.

The number of rescuers swelled soon. Hundreds of people who were at a local fair nearby rushed to the site and the rescue operations gained momentum.

“The local people extended a helping hand to almost every affected passenger,” said Rajya Sabha Member Ramachandra Khuntia, who reached the spot a few minutes after the accident.

A 50-bed government-run hospital, situated just about 200 metres away from the spot, further saved the situation. As the locals and members of voluntary organisations of the area brought the injured to the hospital one after the other, the four doctors who were on duty and the other staff members provided immediate treatment.

More than 140 injured were provided treatment at this hospital alone, while those seriously injured were shifted to the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.

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