New Delhi: Close to 1,000 passengers were in a train that rolled on for nearly 10 kilometres without its engine in Odisha on Saturday night. A video clip shows 22 engine-less coaches of the Ahmedabad-Puri Express speeding past a railway platform as helpless onlookers screamed and yelled at passengers to pull the train's emergency brake.
- Close to 1,000 passengers were in the Ahmedabad-Puri Express
- Seven railways officials have been suspended for lapses
- Train rolled on without engine for nearly 10 km in Odisha
Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani on Sunday said what happened on Saturday night is an isolated incident of staff negligence. After the freak accident, seven railways officials were suspended for lapses.
The railways spokesperson said "more heads are likely to roll". "Something ghastly could have happened and it was averted by alert staff. Safety cannot be compromised," spokesman JP Mishra told news agency AFP.
Twenty two engine-less coaches rolled on for nearly 10 kilometres before railway employees managed to salvage the situation by placing stones on the track and brought the train to a shuddering halt.
None of the 1,000 passengers were injured, the spokesperson said.
The coaches travelled from Titlagarh station, around 380 kilometres from Odisha's capital Bhubaneswar, towards Kesinga in Kalahandi district.
"Everybody in the railways (ministry) is aghast and shocked," Mr Mishra said.
Authorities believe that brakes applied when coaches are detached or attached to the engine were either incorrectly used or overlooked altogether. The suspended staff included two engine drivers, three carriage repairing staff and two operating department employees.
The railway department has formed a team of senior officers to investigate the incident. "We have also ordered a one-month long drive over the entire network for sensitising the staff regarding the precautions to be taken to prevent such incidents," Mr Lohani said.
150 people were killed in November 2016 when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express rolled off the tracks around 100 km from Kanpur.
In August last year, 20 people were killed after the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express got derailed in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar.
A 2012 government report said almost 15,000 people were killed in various ways every year on the country's railways and described the loss of life as an annual "massacre".
More than 22 million passengers commute daily on some 9,000 trains across the country.
(With inputs from agencies)