When Kamil K. Klebanski and Ola Ryzczak planned a Valentine’s Day trip to India from Poland, the last thing they expected was what they experienced aboard the Bengaluru-Ernakulam Intercity Express that derailed early on Friday, leaving nine of their co-passengers dead and 19 seriously injured.
It was a miraculous escape for the couple, as the D-8 coach pierced into the D-9 coach, in which they were travelling, “as if a wall had come in front” inches in front of them. But luck eluded many others in the two coaches that were the worst affected when Train No. 12677 derailed at 7.35 a.m. at Belagondapalli, near Anekal, on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Among those killed were people from Karnataka, Kerala and Jharkhand, aged between 9 and 70. There were heart-rending scenes at Anekal’s Victoria Hospital, where the families of the dead came to receive the bodies. People from the surrounding villages were the first to arrive at the site, while emergency service officials reached there only an hour later, the delay attributed to lack of access.
The rescue operations focussed on those trapped between D-8 and D-9. Hydraulic cutters were brought in to separate the sheets of metal from the bodies trapped underneath and to rescue those caught inside.
“I could hear people screaming and see them, but we couldn’t do anything because of mangled metal,” said Krishnappa, a farmer from Karapuru, a village one km from the spot.
Contrary to the initial belief that boulders on the track could have caused the accident, sources in the railways said a defect in the track could have been the reason.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who rushed to the site, ordered an inquiry. He announced an ex gratia of Rs. 2 lakh for the dead, Rs. 50,000 for the grievously injured and Rs. 25,000 for those with minor injuries. >Read.
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At accident site:
According to the railway chart, there were 94 passengers who occupied 108 seats in the D-8 coach. Of this, three seats were not booked and 11 passengers were to board the train at Hosur.
Keralites depend mainly on the day train that reaches Ernakulam junction at 4.55 p.m. The fatalities and injures were reported more among those travelling in D-8 coach. Over 60 Keralites were in the coach and the train is mostly used by those in the northern districts of Kerala for commuting.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has asked the Minister for Power and Railways Aryadan Mohammed to rush to the spot. Mr. Mohammed, Malappuram collector K. Biju and Inspector General of Police (Ernakulam Range) Ajith Kumar have left for Bangalore. They will reach Bangalore by noon and leave for the accident site from there.
NORKA official in Bangalore Tresa Thomas is reaching the accident site. State government officials in Thiruvananthapuram can be reached on 0471-2331639 for assistance, an official release said.
Nagercoil Express coming towards Bangalore City, which was near the accident spot, has been operated as a special train to Ernakulam and will take passengers from the Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter City Express.
Coimbatore-Kurla (Train no. 11014) which left Coimbatore on Friday morning has been diverted from Salem via Tirupattur and Bangarpet.
According to railway sources, the trains (YPR-Kannur, Mysore-Mayiladuthurai and Mysore-Tuticorin Express) on the Hosur-Dharmapuri route have been diverted via the Bangarpet-Tirupathur route.
The Bangalore-Dharmapuri (Train No. 76553) has been cancelled for Friday.
Two Keralites who died and six others from the State who were injured following Friday morning’s derailment have been identified. >Read
B'lore-Ernakulam Intercity Train derailed btw Anekal &Hosur at 7:45AM. Rescue work is on. Railway Control 08022942666 >pic.twitter.com/ASzcXSwl3A— Abhishek Goyal (@goyal_abhei) >February 13, 2015
|>From Rajdhani in 2003 to Gorakhdam in 2014, rail mishaps in India|
A chronology of 27 major train accidents in the country since 2000.
|>What the numbers show about train derailments in India|
Contrary to popular notion, the number of train derailments have showed a downward trend.
|>Why certain zones are prone to railway accidents|
Railway traffic has grown disproportionately to railway infrastructure, particularly railroads and routes.
(Inputs from Sharath Srivatsa, T.M. Veeraraghav, Tanu Kulkarni, Anil Radhakrishnan S., Roy Mathew and John L. Paul)