Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

India Investigates Train Crash that Killed 23 | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55381361

A train crash in northern India has left 23 people dead and over 100 wounded. (AFP)

Indian officials were on Sunday investigating the cause of a train crash that left 23 people dead and more than 120 injured overnight.

Rescuers using cutting torchers and cranes worked through the night to pull apart 14 coaches of a crowded train that went off the tracks in Uttar Pradesh state in northern India.

Two of the coaches piled on top of one another, while 12 others toppled off the tracks, said Arvind Kumar, a top official.

The crash marked the fourth major accident over the past year on the world’s fourth biggest rail network which is grappling with chronic under-investment and over-crowding.

The cause of the derailment about 130 km (80 miles) north of the capital New Delhi was not known, said Northern Railways spokesman Neeraj Sharma.

Thirteen coaches of the train came off the tracks as it was heading to the Hindu holy city of Haridwar, police said.

The cause of the accident was not known and the driver of the train would be one of the first people to be questioned, Sharma said. He said the death toll could rise.

A member of the railway board told reporters there was information that suggested the derailment happened because of some repair work on the track.

“If it is found that work was going on without adequate precaution and if there was any failure on the part of railway staff then appropriate action will be taken,” said the board member, Muhammad Jamshed.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said the board had been directed to “fix responsibility” by end of the day.

“Will not allow laxity in operations,” Prabhu said in a post on Twitter.

“We had spotted a break in the rail track on Friday and all day workers were at the site repairing the track,” said Rajendra Kumar, the station master at Khatauli, a small town where the accident took place.
Kumar said that some trains, moving very slowly, had passed earlier Saturday, which is why the Kalinga-Utkal Express too was allowed to move on the track.

“This train driver too had been cautioned to move very slowly. The engine and first four coaches stayed upright, while the next 14 coaches derailed,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences to the victims’ families and pledged monetary and other help.

Train crashes are all too common in India after decades of poor investment and rising demand, which usually mean packed trains are running on creaking infrastructure.

Saturday’s accident is at least the fourth major accident this year and the third in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.

A crash in November in Uttar Pradesh killed 150 people.

The network is in the middle of a $130 billion, five-year modernization.

In addition, the government launched a $15 billion safety overhaul in February after the surge in accidents blamed on defective tracks.

But in June, Reuters reported that the overhaul was facing delays as the state steel company could not meet demand for new rails.