Four passengers were killed and several injured when a dozen bogies of the Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express derailed close to Golden Ganj railway station near Chapra in Bihar in the early hours of Wednesday.
Twelve coaches of the train derailed, with five going off the tracks first leading to casualties and seven bogies overturning a little later. Some of the coaches were hurled as far as 700 feet away from the tracks, said Chief Public Relations Officer of East Central Railway Arvind Kumar Rajak. Three passengers were killed on the spot while another succumbed to injuries in hospital, Mr. Rajak added.
The dead included Pawan Dhawan (40) and Shrimati Nilam (39), both from Firozpur in Punjab, and Shefali Dey (65) of Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh. The injured are being treated in hospitals in Chapra and Patna.
Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said prima facie it appeared to be a case of sabotage by Maoists. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, however, maintained that it was too early to blame anyone. “Even the Prime Minister agrees that it is too early to blame the naxals. Let us wait for further report on the incident,” said Mr. Singh before adding that another goods train had derailed about 60 km away from the Rajdhani accident site.
“There was a blast on the track which could have caused the derailment,” Mr. Kumar said. The Maoists had given a bandh call to protest against “harassment of innocent people” in the area by security forces.Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi disputed the Maoist blast theory. “No trace of blast on the track or any other evidence suggesting sabotage has been found so far. It appears to be a result of error on the part of Railways,” he said. According to railway officials, however, the coaches were of the latest Linke Hofmann Busch make and its anti-telescoping features (coaches climbing on one another) and other safety aspects minimised the casualties. Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh for the family of the dead, Rs. 1 lakh for the grievously injured and Rs. 20,000 for those who suffered minor injuries.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the accident.