Bhubaneswar: At least 23 people were killed and more than 40 others injured when 14 coaches of Puri-Haridwar Kalinga-Utkal Express derailed near Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district on today evening.
The Uttar Pradesh police has confirmed the death toll till the last reports.
Thirty ambulances have eached the spot to help the injured while resources were being mobilised for the rescue and relief operations. The exact cause of the accident could not be ascertained as the focus is on the rescue and relief operations.
Two teams of the National Disaster Response Forces (NDRF), comprising 45 personnel each, were also mobilized for the purpose. The railways personnel, the UP police forces too have joined the rescue works.
The injured passengers have been shifted to hospitals.
However, Railways Ministry officials feared that the casualties might increase further as it is presumed that many local passengers were travelling in the train without valid reservations.
Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 3.5 lakh for the next of kin of those killed, Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for passengers with minor injuries. He has also asked the Chairman of the Railway Board to oversee the operations.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi too have expressed grief over the loss of lives and injuries.
“My thoughts are with deceased and their families. Injured are being rescued and provided relief,” the President said.
PM Modi said the Railways Ministry and the UP government are providing all assistance required in the wake of the derailment.
“Extremely pained by derailment of the Utkal Express. My thoughts are with families of the deceased,” the PM said in a tweet message.
The Northern Railways has assured to provide alternative vehicles for the stranded passengers.
The ill-fated train was on its way to Haridwar from Puri when the derailment happened. The train had left for Haridwar on August 17.
Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik expressing his deep grief has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the next of kin of the dead Odia passengers and an assistance of Rs 50,000 for the injured passengers from Odisha.