Train accident
[Representational Image]Reuters

At least 36 people were killed while over 60 injured after seven bogies of Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express train, along with its engine, got derailed near Kuneru station in Andhra Pradesh's Vizianagaram district around 11 pm on Saturday (January 21). The death toll is expected to rise.

The train, which consisted of 22 coaches, was travelling to Bhubaneswar from Jagdalpur. Train services on Rayagada and Vijayanagaram route have been affected. Several trains have also been diverted.

"Seven coaches and the engine of the 18448 Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Express derailed near Kuneru station. Besides the engine, the luggage van, two general coaches, two sleeper coaches, one AC three tier coach and an AC two tier coach derailed," chief PRO of East Cost Railway JP Mishra told the media. 

Railway Ministry sources have said that the possibility of sabotage has not been ruled out.

Rescue and relief operations in full swing:

Mishra added that "four accident relief vans have been sent to the accident site. The reason behind the incident is yet to be ascertained." An NDRF team from Visakhapatnam is present at the spot while four teams from Bhubaneswar are enroute to assist in rescue operations.

Rayagada Sub-Collector Muralidhar Swain said "around 100 people are feared injured. The casualty may go up as many people are trapped." The injured have been rushed to nearby hospitals in Parvathipuram in Andhra Pradesh, the Ministry of Railways tweeted. The East Coast Railways also tweeted saying that 13 "unaffected coaches" have left the accident site "carrying passengers via Sambalpur and Angul" while "bus services have also been arranged by the railways free of cost."

"Total 4 accident relief vans rushed from different places. Priority is treatment, shifting of injured passengers to nearest hospital. @sureshpprabhu personally monitoring situation,directed senior officials to reach site immediately, ensure prompt rescue and relief ops," the ministry said in a series of tweets.

"Buses were arranged to carry passengers towards Brahmapur, Palasa and Vizianagaram, free of cost. Total accident patients attended to at Rayagada dist hosp =32, Trivial injuries = 13, grievous injuries=4, simple injuries=15," the East Coast Railway tweeted.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has also set up a helpline for assistance while a team of fofficials have rushed to the accident site.  Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, along with the Chairman of the Railway Board AK Mittal, has rushed to the accident site.

Prime Minister expresses grief:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences, saying: 

Railway minister announces ex-gratia

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased, Rs 25,000 for those who have been injured and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured in the accident.

He also expressed grief over the incident saying: "Deeply pained and anguished at the loss of innocent lives in the unfortunate accident.Pray for the early recovery of those injured. In view of the unfortunate accident. I am cutting short my official visit to the North East and rushing to the site."

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of victims belonging to the state who lost their lives in the train accident.

Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha offer condolences:

Naidu expressed grief over the incident and said in a series of tweets: "Anguished to learn about the train accident near Vizianagaram. We are monitoring the situation & providing help in all ways possible. My condolences to the families who lost their loved ones. We are investigating the reason for accident."

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik condoled the deaths and said: "Express my deepest grief on the loss of lives and injuries in the derailment of Hirakhand Express train at Kuneru, AP. Expect Railways to take all efforts for early relief & restoration. State is extending all support to railways in this hour of distress."

Trains cancelled:

Helpline numbers at Rayagada: 

  • BSNL land line numbers: 06856-223400, 06856-223500
  • BSNL mobile numbers: 09439741181, 09439741071
  • Airtel numbers: 07681878777

Helpline numbers at Vizianagaram: 

  • Railway numbers: 83331, 83332, 83333, 83334
  • BSNL landline numbers: 08922-221202, 08922—221206 
  • Khurda Road control room: 0674 2490670
  • Bhubaneswar station: 06742543360
  • Behrampur station: 06802229632