23 dead, at least 54 injured as Hirakhand Express train derails near Vizianagaram

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At least 23 passengers were killed and over 54 injured when the Hirakhand Express, plying from Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh to Bhubaneshwar in Odisha, derailed near Kuneru railway station in Andhra Pradesh’s Vizinagaram district late on Saturday night.

The incident occurred around 11.30 pm, while the train was passing by Kuneru railway station. Apart from the engine, seven coaches – comprising the luggage van, two general compartments, two sleeper coaches, an AC three-tier coach and an AC two-tier coach – were derailed. While four coaches fell on an adjacent goods train, two sleeper coaches (S-8 and S-9) and a general coach were completely crushed under the impact of the accident.

“There would have been more casualties if the goods train hadn’t bore the brunt of the derailment,” a railway official told mediapersons. The train had 22 coaches.

As many as 23 bodies had been recovered from the rubble by Sunday morning, and the injured were rushed to the Parvathipuram and Raigarh government hospitals. “The general compartments and the S-9 sleeper coach were the worst damaged in the incident. We believe at least eight others are still trapped inside the crushed bogies. Efforts are on to rescue them,” the official said.

Waltair divisional railway manager Chandralekha Mukherjee left for the accident spot along with relief teams in a special train from Visakhapatnam. Four ambulances were being used to take the injured to hospitals. “The reason for the accident is yet to be ascertained,” said Mukherjee.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu expressed grief over the incident, and announced monetary compensation of Rs 2 lakh for relatives of the deceased, Rs 50,000 for the critically injured, and 25,000 for those with non-fatal injuries.

Ministry of Railways ✔ @RailMinIndia
1/Medical relief trains reaching the site.All rescue and relief apparatus mobilised immediately https://twitter.com/ani_news/status/822890210816118784 …
1:26 AM - 22 Jan 2017

Ministry of Railways ✔ @RailMinIndia
7/MR @sureshpprabhu personally monitoring situation,directed senior officials to reach site immediately,ensure prompt rescue and relief ops
1:49 AM - 22 Jan 2017

“A unit of the National Disaster Response Force has also reached the spot,” said Anil Saxena, a Railways official, adding that the Vijayanagaram-Singhpur route has been affected by the incident. Many trains had to be diverted.

District officials from both Vijayanagaram and Rayagada were assisting in rescue operations.