The Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express crashed in Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar
New Delhi: At around 5:46 pm on Saturday evening, residents of Khatauli in western Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar district heard a loud crash when at least a dozen carriages of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express ran off the tracks. Two of the coaches crashed into a residential area, hitting a house and a school building. At least 21 people have been killed and more than 70 injured in the accident. Local residents say human error may have caused the accident. The government has ordered an inquiry which is also probing any possible foul play.
Here are the latest developments in this big story:
Jagat Ram, one of the residents of the house that was damaged when the train crashed into it, told NDTV that parts of the rail track in the area were being repaired over the last two days. Locals suspect that the driver of the Utkal Express wasn't informed about the work.
"Two other trains that passed through the area before this train had slowed down. This one did not. It came really fast and rammed into the house," Jagat Ram said.
Railway officials, however, are yet to comment on the cause for the accident.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said he has ordered an inquiry. He said he was personally monitoring the situation and strict action will be taken in case of any lapse.
Rescuers from the National Disaster Response Force or NDRF and various divisions of the police worked for hours on Saturday with gas cutters and cranes to find survivors.
Mr Prabhu tweeted at around 11 pm to say that rescue work had been completed. Repair work on the line however will continue, he added.
So far, authorities said, there has been nothing to suggest foul play in the accident though a team of the UP police's anti-terror squad has been sent in to investigate.
The Railways has announced a compensation of Rs 3.5 lakh for the family of those killed, Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for people with minor injuries. State governments of Odisha and Uttar Pradesh have also announced compensation for the victims.
Rail services on the line have been affected due to the accident with trains on the route diverted.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted to express their condolences for the families of those killed.
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Angements of Buses has been done for the clearance of the stranded passengers & for any further detail contact following Helpline no pic.twitter.com/86AirnBLyp