Thursday, November 24, 2011

Kashmir Train Derails, 28 Injured

Observer News Service
Srinagar, Nov 23: Kashmir on Wednesday found a spot on the crowded accident map of the Indian railways with its first train derailment that left at least 28 people injured, three of them children.
Though the police ruled out sabotage, railway authorities said that they would investigate to determine the actual cause of what seems to have given ample warnings of being afoot - signs the passengers said the trainmen ignored.

Carrying around 200 passengers, the two-carriage train lurched off the tracks along with the locomotive shortly before noon near Sadoora in the south Kashmir town of Kulgam while heading for Srinagar.
Still known only by a number (74631), the service forming the valley segment of the long- delayed and exceedingly slow-moving project to connect Kashmir by rail, links Qazigund at the foothills of the Pir Panchal in the south to Baramulla close to the LoC in the north.
Its journey today appeared to have been marred by hiccups right from the word go.
“To begin with, the train was delayed by one-and-a-half hours, leaving the Qazigund station at 11:30 am instead of 10,” Ghulam Muhammad of Budgam said. “It was a jolty ride. The carriages lurched and swayed, but the trainmen dismissed our fears.”
Another passenger, Ghulam Nabi Malik, said that smoke had been seen issuing out of the engine just six kilometres into the journey, but personnel on board had paid no heed to their concern.
According to eyewitnesses, the train had come to a halt a good 200 yards ahead of the Sadoora station, and ploughed straight into the fields on starting again.
Commissioned in October 2008, Kashmir’s first railway has had a chequered history, with six of its eight bogies having been detached at Budgam shortly afterwards because of defects.
Injured passengers evacuated from today’s accident site included six women and three children.
Seven were given first aid right on the scene, while 21 others were driven in government ambulances to hospitals in Qazigund and Anantnag towns, the chief medical officer of the Kulgam district, who had rushed to Sadoora along with a medical team, said.
Top government officers, including the divisional commissioner, had arrived in the town immediately on learning of the accident, where the local administration, the police and neighbouring villagers had begun rescue operations.
The chief general manager for Northern Railways, Upender Singh, said that a team of experts had been dispatched to the accident site.
“An inquiry has been ordered to determine the cause of the derailment,” he said, terming the accident as unfortunate.


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