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Maintenance work being carried out on tracks: Railways on Utkal tragedy

Rescue operations are underway to locate victims who may be trapped still

Press Trust of India  |  Muzaffarnagar 

Utkal Express derails
Workers repairing the rail track after the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express train derailed in Khatauli near Muzaffarnagar, on Sunday. (Photo: PTI)

Investigators on Sunday were looking into what caused one of the deadliest accidents in recent times as rescue operations continued, checking to see if there were people still trapped in the mangled coaches of the that derailed on Saturday

The railway ministry said 21 people were killed and 97 injured, 26 of them grievously, in the near Khatauli in western


"Prime facie, it seems maintenance work was being carried out on the tracks. An investigation will reveal what caused the accident," Mohammed Jamshed, Member (Traffic), Railway Board, told reporters in Delhi.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu directed the chairman of the Railway Board to fix responsibility on "prima facie evidence by the end of day" for the He had ordered an inquiry into the yesterday.

The have deployed high-tech cranes and scores of workers to clear the tracks near Khatauli.

Two 140-tonne cranes were being used from early morning on Sunday to clear derailed coaches, from which survivors had been rescued and bodies pulled out till late last night.

Rescue operations by the Disaster Response Force got over at around 3 AM.

Thirteen coaches of the high-speed Utkal Express, on its way from Puri in Odisha to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, jumped the rails yesterday, with one coach crashing into a house near the tracks.

Minister Prabhu said he was monitoring the situation and that restoration of the tracks was his top priority.

"Restoration is top priority. Seven coaches tackled. Also ensuring best possible medical care for the injured," he tweeted today.

A senior official said 156 people were injured in the

"A total of 156 people were injured in the and among them many remain critical," Awanish Kumar Awasthi, Principal Secretary (Information), UP government, told PTI on the phone.

Curious onlookers gathered at the site this morning, as two coaches were hauled off the track and placed on the ground.

Linesmen and other workers shovelled away stones as new concrete sleepers were laid to reinforce the tracks.

"We have come from Panipat to work on the clearing of the tracks," a linesman said.

Work is currently underway to haul an overturned coach, which had rammed into the facade of a local college, while another sleeper coach, which crashed into a house, is still to be removed.

"The had 23 coaches out of which 13 had derailed. It was running at a speed of about 100 kmph when the took place," said Delhi Division DRM, R N Singh.

Six of the derailed coaches were severely damaged.

A posse of security personnel from the UP Police, the RPF, PAC and RRF has been deployed at the site of the since last evening.

Minister Prabhu has directed senior officials and medical personnel to provide assistance to injured passengers and all possible help to the relatives of the affected passengers.

He also announced a Rs 3.5-lakh ex-gratia compensation to the next of kin of those who lost their lives, Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for those who received minor injuries.

The injured have been taken to hospitals in and Meerut and both the and the local administration have issued helplines.

Trains passing through the Meerut line of the Northern Railway have either been cancelled or diverted till 6 pm today, a senior railway official said.

"All services on Meerut line, on which Khatauli falls, have been either cancelled or diverted through other routes till 6 PM, as the tracks are yet to be cleared of mangled coaches," Singh told PTI.

Singh said the diverted trains would run through Shamli till the restoration work was over.

First Published: Sun, August 20 2017. 14:58 IST
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