At least 31 people were killed and around 150 others injured on Friday when the engine and two adjoining coaches of the Dehradun-Varanasi Janta Express derailed near Bachrawan Railway Station in Rai Bareilly district.
“The toll has gone up to 31,” Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Ahmed Hassan said. Officials feared that the casualties could go up.
Though the cause of the derailment was not immediately known, officials at the scene of the mishap said the train apparently overshot a signal because of a possible brake failure before coming off the rails. The scene of the accident that occurred at 9.10 AM was some 50 km from the state capital Lucknow.
One of the coaches was a general compartment, which lay mangled along the tracks as rescuers used gas cutters to rip apart the wreckage to find trapped people. Most of the casualties were from this coach, officials said.
The other was a guard compartment which is likely to have been vacant. If not for the vacant coach, the number of casualties would have been higher, the officials said.
The locomotive driver apparently overshot the signal and as a result, the engine and two adjoining coaches derailed, Railway Spokesperson Anil Saxena said in Delhi.
Railways have ordered an inquiry and announced a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh for the next of kin of those killed in the accident. While Rs. 50,000 will be given to those injured seriously, Rs. 20,000 will be given to people with minor injuries.
As soon as the news of the accident spread, people from nearby villages rushed to the spot to help in rescue and relief operations even before authorities arrived at the spot.
The accident spot presented a devastating sight with one of the bogies reduced to a mangle of steel.
There was some anxious moments in the area as furious locals raised slogans against the administration and railway authorities, saying the rescuers took a long time to reach the spot.
Ambulances carrying teams of doctors were rushed to the accident site to help passengers who were screaming in pain, eyewitnesses said.
Train movement on the Lucknow-Varanasi section of the Northern Railway has been disrupted due to the accident.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an inquiry by the Commissioner Railway Safety of Northern Circle, to ascertain the cause of the derailment.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced a compensation of Rs. two lakh to the kin of those killed and Rs. 50,000 for the injured.