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29 Dec 2016

Derailed: desert train and holiday plan - Bengal tourists among injured

Some of the derailed coaches of the Sealdah-Ajmer Express near Kanpur on Wednesday. A Telegraph picture 
Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow, TT, Dec. 28: A Rajasthan-bound train packed with holidaymakers from Calcutta jumped tracks near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh early today, turning an already delayed journey into a nightmare for hundreds of passengers.
Arunabha Kundu, 44, wife Sriparna, 43, their son Agni, 10, and daughter Anvesha, 8, were going to Agra to fulfil a lifelong dream: seeing the Taj Mahal. They were asleep when their holiday turned into a horror trip because of what Arunabha said was "criminal negligence of the Indian Railways towards passenger safety".
A wholesale foodgrains dealer from Shyamnagar, in North 24-Parganas, Arunabha injured his left hand when 15 coaches of the Sealdah-Ajmer Express derailed. He and his family were in the S6 coach.
"The train derailed with a deafening sound. Our coach tilted and all of us took a tumble, along with our luggage. It was still dark and there was fog outside with visibility almost zero," he told Metro from the Kanpur Dehat District Hospital.
Arunabha's wife and their two children escaped injury.
"They were afraid of jumping out of the door after the train stopped because of the height created by the coach tilting. But they did so eventually because there was no other option," he recounted.
Sixty-eight people were admitted to different hospitals with minor to serious injuries. Arunabha was among the 44 passengers listed by the railways as those with "minor injuries". He has avulsion fractures in his left hand that would require a surgical procedure.
"The doctors said I would need surgery after a few days. But they also seem to be in a hurry to release me from hospital," Arunabha said.
The 24 passengers stated to be "seriously injured" are undergoing treatment either in a government medical college or the Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital. Subhas Pal, a grocer from Calcutta, is at Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital with injuries to his forehead. He said many other passengers in his coach, S2, were injured. "Our coach was left hanging over a canal after the train came to a halt," he said.
Subhas, his wife and daughter had boarded the train at Sealdah and were going Jaipur to meet a relative. The train was to leave Sealdah at 11.05pm on Monday but the start was delayed by six hours.
Some injured passengers told reporters that the police rescue team didn't reach the accident spot until around 7.30am, more than two hours after the train derailed. The National Disaster Response Force arrived at 10am, they said.
By this time, the majority of the injured passengers had come out of their coaches, banking on one another for help.
Sources said quoting eyewitnesses that a fractured rail track led to the derailment, as is the case in most such accidents. The section where the incident occurred is part of the railways' Allahabad division.
"I think the speed of the train was below 50kmph, which is why no life was lost. Two coaches fell into a dry canal about six metres below a rail overbridge. The passengers of those coaches are the ones with the more serious injuries," said Upendra Yadav, a passenger from Ranchi who had boarded the train at Koderma station in Jharkhand.
Anil Saxena, a spokesperson for the railways, said the derailed coaches - 13 sleeper and two general - were positioned sixth to 19th from the engine.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has announced financial assistance of Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively to those with serious and minor injuries.

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