The death toll in the Bikaner – Guwahati Express train accident rose to nine people as 12 coaches derailed and some of them overturned near Domohani in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal on Thursday.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw visited the accident site on Friday where he said that there was some issue with the equipment of the locomotive. He said that the actual reason behind the accident would be established only after dismantling the engine's equipment.
The railway minister also met with the 36 persons who were left injured in the train accident on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, he said, "The issue was with the locomotive's equipment, not with speed restrictions or tracks. There will be marks on the equipment. Only after dismantling it and studying those marks, the reason behind the accident can be ascertained".
"The root cause will soon come out. An inquiry into the incident is underway. We pray for the departed souls and wish for a speedy recovery of the injured. Talks are on with the families regarding the distribution of ex-gratia," he added.
The Northeast Frontier Railway's (NFR) Chief Public Relations Officer Guneet Kaur on Friday said, "The minister conducted a trolley inspection to ascertain the condition of the track and fittings. At the accident site, he conducted a thorough inspection of the underframe of the locomotive and its braking system".
Kaur informed that the death toll due to the unfortunate accident had risen to nine, out of whom three of the deceased were yet to be identified. The number of injured currently stands at 36. While 23 passengers are undergoing treatment at a super specialty hospital in Jalpaiguri, six are admitted to the North Bengal Medical College and seven at Maynaguri Rural Hospital, the CPRO added.
PTI quoted her saying, "The accident took place at 5 pm on Thursday near Domohani in Alipurduar division of the Northeast Frontier Railway. An inquiry committee has been formed to find out what caused the derailment".
The NFR General Manager Anshul Gupta also visited the accident spot and supervised restoration works of tracks and normalizing train movement, Kaur informed. She added that GM Gupta also visited various hospitals on Thursday night and early on Friday to check on those who were injured.
She said, "Now that the passenger relief operation at the site is complete, restoration work will start in full swing for normalization of train movement under the supervision of the NFR general manager".
Meanwhile, a special train left the accident site for Guwahati at 9.50 pm with 290 stranded passengers, the CPRO informed.
Assam's Special DGP (Law and Order) GP Singh tweeted that the special train reached Guwahati railway station in Assam's Guwahati at around 8.30 am on Friday.
An NFR statement on Thursday mentioned that there were 1,053 passengers on board the train at the time of the derailment. The Railways announced ₹5 lakh as ex-gratia each to the next of kin of those killed, ₹1 lakh each to the critically injured and ₹25, 000 each for those passengers with simple injuries.
Notably, at least 10 trains, mostly intercity and DEMU trains have been cancelled on the affected route on Friday, while a couple of trains are being short-terminated or short-originated. Another 10 long-distance trains are being diverted through alternative routes, the CPRO added, PTI informed.