Lucknow, March 20:
At least 27people were killed when two crowded coaches of a passenger train derailed in Uttar Pradesh on Friday after the driver overshot a signal, officials said.
The ghastly accident took place at Banchrawa, 40 km from here in Rae Bareli district, when the Dehradun-Varanasi Janata Express was on its way to Varanasi, the officials said.
One of the two coaches which derailed was a sleeper class. The other was a general coach.
Mahesh Gupta, a railway divisional commissioner, told IANS that 27 people had been killed and that the toll could rise.
Rescuers struggled to remove bodies crushed within the mangled coaches. Some bodies were pulled out from under the coaches.
“The number of casualties is likely to increase as the general bogey has been completely flattened,” an official said.
District officials assisting the railways in the rescue and relief effort also confirmed that the death toll would go up.
Northern Railway officials said that prima facie the train driver seemed to be at fault.
“The train was to stop at the Banchrawa railway station but it did not. When he realized this, the engine driver applied the emergency brakes, leading to the derailment,” one official said.
The accident disrupted train services on the important New Delhi-Lucknow-Varanasi sector.
Furious locals and villagers from nearby areas who rushed to the site raised slogans against the administration and railway authorities, saying official rescuers took a long time to reach the disaster spot.
A special relief train has been rushed to Banchrawa from Lucknow, the officials said.
Six doctors and 20 ambulances were also sent to the accident site, and 100 beds have been reserved in Lucknow hospitals to cater to the injured, officials here said.
The Uttar Pradesh government has announced Rs.2 lakh each to the families of the dead and Rs.50,000 to the injured.
The railways ordered a probe into the accident. (IANS)