Hirakhand train accident: At least 39 killed; Railways suspects foul play, police don't
"There is a strong indication of tampering with the tracks. Republic Day is approaching and foul play cannot be ruled out. A goods train had safely passed through the same track."
In a horrifying incident, at least 39 people were killed and 69 injured when the engine and nine coaches of the Jagdalpur -Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express went off the tracks in Andhra Pradesh's Vizianagaram district.
According to the report, railways suspected foul play, however, local authorities ruled it out. Railway officials said that they suspected tampering of tracks by Maoists, as the area is Naxal-prone. But local police superintendent LKV Ranga Rao denied any evidence. The engine and the coaches went off the tracks near Kuneru station, which lies almost at the border of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The Odisha police too ruled out the involvement of Maoists.
Reports quoted senior railway officials as saying, "There is a strong indication of tampering with the tracks. Republic Day is approaching and foul play cannot be ruled out. A goods train had safely passed through the same track." Rao reportedly said that the cause of derailment appeared to be technical.
Railways spokesperson Anil K Saxena said that the real cause will be known only after an inquiry by the Commissioner of Railway Safety. Even though the Railways has ordered an inquiry, notably the probe into the two other major train accidents that took place in November and December are still under way.
The accident comes barely a month after 63 people were injured when the Ajmer-Sealdah Express derailed near Kanpur. This followed the Indore-Patna Express derailment on November 20, in which nearly 150 people were killed.
The Hirakhand Express was going from Jagdalpur city to Bhubaneswar when it came off the track nearly 160 km from Visakhapatnam, the nearest city to the accident site. 13 of the train's 22 coaches were unaffected.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu went to the accident site and also visited victims in the hospital. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh under an insurance scheme to the kin of the deceased. Prabhu announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia to the kin of deceased.