21 dead, 97 injured as 14 coaches of Utkal Express derail near Muzaffarnagar in UP

21 dead as Utkal Express derails in UP
At least 21 passengers died and 97 others suffered injuries when 14 of the 23 coaches of the 18477 Utkal Express, from Puri in Odisha to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, derailed at Khatauli, about 25 km from Muzzafarnagar, in Uttar Pradesh, yesterday evening.
Northern Railway spokesman Neeraj Sharma told NetIndian over the telephone that 26 of the injured passengers had suffered grievous injuries while 71 had minor injuries.
Rescue and relief teams have completed the search for victims in the affected coaches and railway officials were now working to restore normal traffic on the route. "We hope to restore traffic on the line by 7 pm today," Mr. Sharma said.
Mr. Sharma said two of the derailed coaches had been re-railed and efforts were on to re-rail the other affected coaches at the earliest.
Senior Northern Railway officials, including the General Manager and the Additional General Manager, were at the scene of the tragedy, overseeing the restoration works as well as the relief operations.
Official sources said five coaches at the rear of the ill-fated train were taken to Khatauli station at little after midnight last night, while five coaches at the front were taken to Mansurpur.
Some of the seriously injured were referred to hospitals in Meerut and Delhi, the sources said.
The mishap occurred around 5.46 pm yesterday, and affected the eighth coach from the  engine and those behind it.
Television pictures from the scene showed that one of the coaches had climbed on to the top of another coach, and one of its ends had crashed into a building on the side of the track. Cranes were requisitioned to bring it down and to lift the capsized coaches.
Gas cutters were used to cut through the mangled steel to pull out those trapped inside the coaches. More than 60 ambulances from government and private hospitals as well as charity organisations were deployed to take the injured to hospitals.
Scores of local people joined the district administration, police and other emergency services personnel in the rescue and relief efforts.
The Railways rushed medical vans from Delhi and Saharanpur and an accident relief team from Ambala to the scene of the derailment. Arrangements were being made for buses to clear the stranded passengers from the site.
Various sources said that some workers were carrying out maintenance work on the track before the ill-fated train crossed the spot, and that the driver of the speeding train was not made aware of this in time.
As a consequence of the accident, the Railways have cancelled, short-terminated or diverted some trains. Today's 18478 Haridwar-Puri Kalinga Utkal Express has been cancelled due to yesterday's derailment.
Khatauli is located on the Meerut-Saharanpur section of the Delhi Division of Northern Railway, about 115 km from Delhi.
Senior railway officials of the Delhi Division, and staff and officers from nearby stations rushed to the scene as soon as news of the accident was received.
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) also reached the site and massive search and rescue operations continued till late last night.
The train had left Puri on Friday and was due to reach Haridwar at 9 pm yesterday, they said.
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said on micro-blogging site Twitter that he was personally monitoring the situation and had instructed senior officers to reach the spot immediately and ensure speedy rescue and relief operations. He said medical vans had been rushed to the site of the accident.
"Have instructed Chairman Rly Board, Member Traffic to oversee rescue and relief operations. I am personally monitoring situation," he said. "Instructed General Manager, other senior officers to ensure all possible help to the people."
"In close touch with @CMOfficeUP , State Government officials, district administration to coordinate rescue and relief operations," he said.
Mr. Prabhu said he had instructed the Member, Engineering of the Railway Board, the Director General, Health and other senior officers to rush to the scene.
"Have ordered inquiry into the unfortunate accident to ascertain the cause. Strict action will be taken against any lapse," he added.
Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and Minister of State for Water Resources Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan also rushed to the scene of the accident.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told journalists that two State Ministers -- Satish Mahana and Suresh Rana -- had been sent to the spot.
The Ministry of Railways announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 3.50 lakh for the next-of-kin of those killed in the accident, Rs. 50,000 for the seriously injured and Rs. 25,000 for those with minor injuries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the accident. "Extremely pained by the derailment of the Utkal Express in Muzaffarnagar. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased," he said on Twitter.
"I wish those injured a speedy recovery. The situation is being monitored very closely by the Railways Ministry," he said.
"Railways Ministry & UP Government are doing everything possible & providing all assistance required in the wake of the train derailment," he added.
The Railways have set up the following helpline numbers for the benefit of the passengers and their relatives:
Muzaffarnagar Railway Station: 0131-2433099
Delhi Railway Station: 011-23962389/23967332
New Delhi: 011-23342954/23341074
Nizamuddin: 011-24239748
Ghaziabad: 09412715210
Haridwar: 9760534054, 01334227477/4227478/4227479/4227480
Moradabad: 05912420324
Roorkee: 9760534056
Bhubaneswar: 9674-2301525, 2301625, 203060, 2492611, 2534027, 845885936
Cuttack: 0671-2200568
Puri: 06752-226717, 1072


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