Patna, June 25 :
At least five people were killed when all 12 coaches and the engine of the Delhi-Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express derailed in Bihar early Wednesday, police said. Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi ruled out sabotage although some 500 metres of tracks were found uprooted.
At least 13 other people were injured in the accident that took place near the Golden Ganj railway station near Chhapra, some 100 km from here, around 2.30 a.m. when passengers were asleep, railway officials said.
In another incident, 12 coaches of a goods train also jumped tracks near Motihari in East Champaran district in Bihar. No casualties were reported.
Train traffic on the route, which links eastern India with the northeast, was paralysed, East Central Railway spokesman Arvind Kumar Razak said.
The cause of the derailment was not clear yet, he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths and wished the injured speedy recovery. The Prime Minister’s Office said he was in touch with Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who rushed to the accident site.
Gowda told the media in Patna that it was too early to comment on the cause of the accident. He said he would do that only after he meets railway and district officials.
Relief and rescue operations were on in full swing, he said.
An ex-gratia payment of Rs.2 lakh for the families of those killed, Rs.1 lakh for the severely injured, and Rs.20,000 for those who received minor injuries was announced by the railway ministry.
Bihar Police spokesman S.K. Bharadwaj said five people were killed when the train derailed.
“We have information of five deaths in the derailment and most of the injured have been admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital for treatment,” Bhardawaj said.
Superintendent of Police Sudhir Kumar earlier said some of the injured were taken to hospitals in Chhapra and Patna.
After Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the BJP Lok Sabha member from Chhapra, referred to Maoist activity in the region, Sudhir Kumar denied that sabotage or Maoists might be responsible for the derailment.
“It is an accident and the result of a technical fault,” he said in Saran.
“About 500 metres of railway track was found uprooted but there was no evidence of an explosion,” he said. And no explosives were found from the accident site.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh also said it was too early to blame the Maoists.
Referring to “Maoist threats”, Rudy earlier said: “I do not want to go into the merits of the case because it looks like sabotage… from what I understand after looking at the tracks.”
“I spoke to the prime minister and the home minister and have briefed them about the incident. Both of them are concerned.”
Bihar Chief Minister Manjhi said here: “There is no Maoist connection.” He announced a compensation of Rs.50,000 to families of the four people killed.
Former chief minister Nitish Kumar added: “It is too early to say that Maoists are involved… I have been a railway minister. We cannot say such things until there is an investigation.”
The Bihar government ordered an inquiry into the accident.
Meanwhile, former railway minister and RJD leader Lalu Prasad blamed negligence for the disaster. “The railways should accept responsibility for the accident.”