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Today (06:46)  Utkal Express derailment: Railway employee falls victim (www.thehindu.com)
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Major Accidents/DisruptionsNR/Northern  -  

News Entry# 312486     
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Posted by: rdb*^  131692 news posts
 
 
The Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express was always the preferred choice for Alok Sarkar. On Saturday, the 48-year-old boarded the train for Muzaffarnagar.
“Never thought that this would be his last journey,” his elder brother said as he struggled to come to terms with the loss. “My brother used to work at the Divisional Railway Manager’s office in Delhi. He would always take this train.”
Fourteen coaches of the train derailed near Khatauli, one crashing into a house by the track.
Sarkar’s
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brother-in-law said the family received the body and was taking it to Delhi for cremation on Sunday.
“We have identified 12 bodies, and autopsy has been done,” Divisional Commissioner, Saharanpur, Deepak Agarwal said.
Later on, an official said four more bodies were identified. “The victims hailed from Rajasthan, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh and Aligarh,” he said.
At the mortuary here, the family members of the victims, some of them survivors themselves, gathered to collect the bodies, a few of them crying.
  
Today (06:46)  Utkal Express derailment: When a pilgrimage turned fatal (www.thehindu.com)
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Major Accidents/DisruptionsNR/Northern  -  

News Entry# 312485     
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Posted by: rdb*^  131692 news posts
 
 
Rajbala from Satna in Madhya Pradesh had barely started a conversation with her husband who was travelling with her to Haridwar when their coach seemed to jump into the air near Khatauli.
They were making plans about the things they will do after taking a dip in the Ganga at Haridwar on August 21, 2017 on the occasion of “Somti Amayasya”, a day of great significance for Hindus. Suddenly it was all dark and she passed out. She remembered being pulled out from the coach by someone. On regaining consciousness, her thought was about her husband who was missing. All she could hear were cries and there were lifeless bodies all around.
Rajesh
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Das from Kolkata was also travelling to Haridwar with a group of 40 women from his colony to take a dip in the Ganga. The local residents of Khatauli cut the window of S1 and pulled him out. Amid noise and fear all around, he managed to pull some of his fellow travellers. “There was this extremely loud sound, after which I remember people sitting above my birth fell on me. It was almost like an earthquake. I thought I am going to die of suffocation and then I became unconscious,” remembered teary-eyed Mr. Das who was yet to locate six fellow travellers from his group. “I don’t know what happened to them. What will we say to their families?”
Like Ms. Das and Mr. Rajbala, there were hundreds of passengers who were going to Haridwar on the occasion of “Somti Amavasya”.
On August 20, 2017, there were many people outside the mortuary, looking for their loved ones.
Muzaffarnagar resident Iftikhar, a man in his late 30s, was looking for his younger brother, Ishtiyaq, who was travelling by the same train. “I could not find him anywhere. His phone is switched off. He is not there in the list of injured. I have come here finally with my worst fears coming true,” he said.
Sahil Ahmad, anothr Muzaffarnagar resident who was coming from Puri, suffered minor injuries. Sitting on a bed of Khatauli health centre, he recounted those 10 seconds which he would “never to go through again”.
“No one had a clear idea what was happening. But everyone was afraid that they may not be alive to know what happened. There was complete darkness before my eyes. Someone pulled me out of the window,” he said. When he came out all he could hear was screams for help and injured people.
Most of the survivors complained that the official machinery reached late. The local residents helping the accident victims were furious with the administration. Some of them brought their own gas cutting machines to open the mangled coaches.
Ten minutes before his AC coach jumped off the track and swung in air only to fall on other coaches, Vishal had called home in Gwalior and told his family every thing was fine. He too was headed for Haridwar. “I can only thank god for keeping me alive because what I saw after regaining consciousness made me cry. I saw bodies and people crying for help,” Mr. Vishal said.
There were hundreds of local residents of Khatauli who were the first ones to reach on the spot and rescue people. Some of them like Sanjeev who lives in the railway colony where the accident happened, told The Hindu that “witnessing the accident and seeing the coaches on each other, in itself, was a horror”.
“There was such a din that you cannot understand who was saying what. In one coach we saw people were stuck, trying to come out of the derailed bogey. Without thinking, some of us started pulling people out,” he said trying to catch his breath.
  
Today (06:43)  We acted on our own: NDRF chief (www.thehindu.com)
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News Entry# 312484     
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Posted by: rdb*^  131692 news posts
 
 
Says ‘local leaders’ impeded rescue
The National Disaster Response Force rushed to Khatauli on watching television news flash about 14 coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express derailing there on Saturday evening.
NDRF chief Sanjay Kumar told The Hindu that two teams, stationed at Ghaziabad, reached Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh an hour-and-a-half after the accident that took place at 5.46 p.m.
The
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NDRF is a central police force trained for rescue and relief operations during natural disasters and accidents.
Timely action
“We received neither a message from anyone nor a request for NDRF teams ... it was a suo motu decision when we saw the news flash. Our teams in Ghaziabad, which are always ready to move, rushed to the site. When we saw on television that more than six coaches had derailed, we sent two more teams,” Mr. Kumar said.
He said “local leaders” and NGOs who visited the site were impeding the rescue. “Though we are equipped with the best of machinery for rescue, so many other agencies are working at the site. So coordination is a huge challenge, for everyone wants to take credit. Local leaders and NGOs come under the pretext of extending help… We are restraining them to the extent possible so as to carry on the operation without hindrance.”
Rescue mission
Mr. Kumar said the NDRF had pulled out 20 bodies from the overturned coaches and rescued 100 injured passengers. “We have called off the operation as there was no chance of finding any more survivors. Our dog squads ensured no people was buried alive under the mangled coaches,” he said.
Railway officials brought in a crane to clear the damaged coaches off the railway track.
We got no message or request ... It was a suo motu decision when we saw the news flash
Sanjay Kumar
NDRF chief
  
Today (06:42)  Flying coaches ram houses (www.thehindu.com)
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News Entry# 312483     
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Posted by: rdb*^  131692 news posts
 
 
Eyewitnesses recall hazy smoke, cries for help, destruction, shock and disbelief
It was a normal, breezy evening when Chaudhary Jagat Singh, a man in his early 70s, was doing what he loves most — sitting in the front porch of his house and watching trains pass by at extremely slow speeds barely 10 metres away.
On Saturday, this resident of Jagat Colony was not expecting anything out of the ordinary to happen. But then, to his horror, stones suddenly began flying around everywhere. And then he saw a train hurtling towards him at
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an extremely high speed, its coaches jumping off the tracks and apparently hanging 30 feet high in the air. Before he could run inside, a coach rammed into his house, demolishing its walls.
“It just banged on this side of the house, pinning me down,” said Jagat Singh.
The septuagenarian is yet to come out of the shock of being a witness to an accident that killed at least 24 people and injured over 200.
“It was unbelievable because just about half an hour before the accident, we had seen two trains passing by at very slow speeds because of the repairs. This train came and it did not slow down as we thought it would. In fact, before we realised what was happening, it just rammed into my house,” he said. He said that immediately after the accident, a smoky haze lasted for over 10 minutes.
All dark
Pintu Chaudhary, Mr. Jagat’s son, said,“We had to find our way in the dark, guided by the cries of the people who had fallen out from the S2 coach that had crashed inside my house. There was this old man and a woman with her small daughter, all injured and screaming in pain,” he recalled.
He added that he would file a case against the Railways, demanding compensation for the destruction of his house.
  
Today (06:42)  Probe team to look into audio clip (www.thehindu.com)
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News Entry# 312482     
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Posted by: rdb*^  131692 news posts
 
 
An 15-minute audio clip of what is said to be a conversation between a railway employee and a mediaperson on alleged “negligence” that caused the train accident in Khatauli, has gone viral on social media.
Mohammed Jamshed, Member, Traffic, Railways, said the inquiry team would look into the clip.
In the clip, the employee, apparently posted at a crossing near the accident site, says a reason for the tragedy was “poor patrolling” on the track where maintenance work was under way. “Welding work was under way at a section of the railway track
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... but the workers did not fix the block of the track and left it loose. Gates near the crossing were closed. A piece [of the track] was not fixed ... and when the Utkal Express arrived, 14 of its coaches got derailed,” he is heard saying.
“Neither the line, on which the work was under way, was fixed nor had they put any flag or a signboard as a stop signal. The accident occurred due to negligence. It seems all employees concerned will be suspended.”
He talks of how workers had left equipment between the tracks after work.
“At least, they could have removed the machine and put a red flag there. Perhaps then the tragedy could have been averted,” he says.
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