Monday, December 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

4 more bodies extricated
Death toll rises to 43
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

JEEWANPURA (Fatehgarh Sahib), Dec 3 — The rescue operation from the mangled bogey of the Howrah Express which collided with a goods train here yesterday ended this morning, with four more bodies being extricated following extensive gas cutting work taking the death toll in the mishap to 43.

Two bodies had been extricated last night. Rescue operations concluded at 6 a.m. today. Following the end of the operation, more than 1,500 Railway staff members started the work of clearing the tracks with the help of two big cranes.

Speaking to TNS at the accident site, Chief Engineer, Railways, S.M. Singla said both the rail tracks would be relaid by the evening. He said while one track was expected to be replaced by afternoon, the replacement of the second track was posing a problem as the 120-tonne Howrah train engine had to be first removed.

Meanwhile, the Chief Safety Officer, Railway, L.R. Thapar said emergency replacement of the track was being done and that it would be relaid afresh later. He said the engineers were still unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the accident. While a fracture noted in the track yesterday was thought to have been the reason for the accident, today it was revealed that it was a neat fracture going through and through and it could not have caused the accident.

Mr Thapar said the reason for the accident could be a fracture in the railway track or overloading. He said readings were being conducted of both the track as well as the wagons to measure the stress on them and check if the wagons were overloaded or not.

Meanwhile, the relatives of the victims left the accident site this afternoon. Lakhwinder Singh and his family were sobbing uncontrollably after identifying their brothers Tasveer Singh and Shavinder Singh. They also have to contend with having a sister Kulwant Kaur, in the Civil Hospital at Sirhind. Kulwant, who was injured and badly stuck in the ill-fated wagon, was administered glucose during her ordeal while trapped in the train bogey.

Meanwhile, the Patiala district administration has made elaborate arrangements to help identify the deceased and arrange transport for them to the nearest railway station or other place of their choosing. A control room has been established at Government Medical College in Patiala where the bodies have arrived.

Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir disclosed that a magistrate was posted at the control room where photographs of the deceased had been put on a notice board to help in identification. He said only eight bodies out of the 40 received had been released to their relatives so far. These are Inder Singh, Assistant Guard, Saharanpur, U . P., Kulwant Singh, Dogran village, Gurdaspur, Shanti Devi, Pappu Karyana Store, Ludhiana, Raj Kaur, Singhpura Village, Patti tehsil, Gurdaspur, Mammood Ikrar, Sadar Pilibhit, U.P., and Jaswinder Singh, PS Amina, Pilibhit, U.P.

Mr Bir said the families of the deceased were being given an ex-gratia amount of Rs 15,000 on the spot.

Meanwhile, most of the relatives of the deceased are expected to arrive tomorrow. The control room has received some inquiries from Patna from where a number of the deceased belong.


Probe by SC judge ordered
Mamata pulls up DRM
Tribune News Service

JEEWANPURA (Fatehgarh Sahib) Dec 3 — Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee gave a dressing down to Railway officials while on a hurricane visit to the site of yesterday’s train accident here today and ordered a probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge into the accident.

“Do you think I can continue to remain minister if these things happen?’’, asked the Union Minister of Northern Railway Divisional Manager Vijay Kumar at the tragedy spot at 2 a.m. today. She also held the officer responsible for the incident, asking him why the track had not been inspected despite an order in this regard by her three months back.

Ms Banerjee, expressed her annoyance at the frequency of accidents in the Ambala division apparently alluding to the Khanna train disaster in which the Sealdah Express had rammed into capsized bogies of another passenger train.

According to sources she warned Mr Kumar several times, ‘’I will see you later’’. Speaking to newsmen she said the cause of accident would be verified by technical persons and a full fledged inquiry would be conducted into the case. When asked whether she would resign on the issue, she quipped. “If they (dead) can come back or the working of the Railways can improve by this, I will resign”. Later, she visited the injured in the Civil Hospital at Sirhind and the APJ Hospital at Rajpura.

Speaking to TNS at the accident site, Divisional Railway Manager Vijay Kumar said the Union Minister was perturbed due to the loss of lives in the accident. He said though both this accident and the Khanna collision were similar in nature, there had been no negligence on the part of the any railway official. He said the recommendations made after the Khanna incident had been implemented.

Giving the sequence of events the DRM said while the goods train passed Sadhugarh which was 10 km from the accident site at 5.23 a.m. on the fateful day, the Howrah Express crossed Serai Banajara at 5.35 a.m. He said both timings were computerised and as the goods train needed around 10 minutes to cover the distance from Sadhugarh, there was a time gap of only about two minutes from the derailment of the bogeys of the goods train and the accident.

Mr Kumar said the driver of the Howrah Express when he saw that there were only four bogeys along with the goods train tried to talk to the guard of the goods train but there was no time for response. He said the wireless sets given to the drivers and guards of the trains allowed them to talk to each other as well as staff of approaching trains. He said the guard of the goods train tried to put out flasher lights but the Howrah had passed him by that time. He said the driver of the Howrah Express braked bringing the train speed to 80 kilometres from 100 kilometres earlier.

PM expresses grief over train mishap

NEW DELHI, Dec 3 (UNI) — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said the train accident in Punjab had once again highlighted the urgent need to improve safety systems in the Indian Railways.

“I assure my countrymen that the government will deal with this issue with utmost seriousness and without any further delay’’, Mr Vajpayee said.

Expressing his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families, Mr Vajpayee in a message said yesterday’s accident near Patiala came in the wake of a series of similar railway mishaps in recent years.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, expressing concern at the rising number of train accidents in the country, today said all efforts and necessary steps must be taken to ensure the safety and security of the passengers.Back


8 coaches of Jhelum Express derailed

INDORE, Dec 3 (PTI) — Eight coaches of Pune-Jammu Tawi Jhelum Express derailed between Talvadya and Khaigaon stations on the Khandwa-Itarsi section of Central Railway today, disrupting rail traffic, official sources said here. Nobody was injured in the mishap that occurred at 5.30 am, the sources said.

Three AC coaches, three sleeper class coaches, one general coach and the guard’s van of the train, which had left Pune last evening, jumped off the track, the sources said.

Stranded passengers of the derailed train have been accommodated in a special train, which left for Jammu Tawi from Itarsi at 12.30 pm.

The repair work of the track was on, sources said.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |