Chennai train accident kills seven, Lalu promises probe (Third Lead)April 29th, 2009 - 3:15 pm ICT by IANS
Chennai, April 29 (IANS) At least seven people were killed and 20 injured when a local passenger train collided with a goods train in Chennai’s northern Vyasarpadi Jeeva suburb Wednesday. Railways Minister Lalu Prasad said an inquiry will be conducted into the incident.
“An unidentified, unauthorised person operated the local train with 35 passengers from Chennai Central Rail Terminal around 5 a.m. and rammed it into a stationary goods train at the northern Vyasarpadi suburb,” a Southern Railway spokesperson told IANS.
“The unidentified train operator and six others died in the accident. Four bodies have been recovered so far. Other casualties, if any, would be known after the mangled remains of the trains are separated by oxy-acetylene torches,” he added.
The goods train’s motorman Arumugham, his assistant Gilbert and guard Satish jumped out to save themselves and suffered multiple fractures.
Police sources said a case has been registered and 37-year-old S. Karunanidhi, the scheduled motorman of the local train, is being questioned on how an unauthorised person managed to operate the train.
“We will conduct an inquiry into the train accident in Tamil Nadu,” Lalu Prasad told reporters in Patna.
Of the 20 injured admitted to the General Hospital in this Tamil Nadu capital, seven are women. The deceased are yet to be identified.
“We heard a loud noise and then saw several railway compartments in flames. The smell emanating from bodies retrieved from the mangled coaches was nauseating,” said M.N. Selvi, who lives near the Vyasarpadi railway station.
Platforms at the Vyasarpadi Jeeva railway station have been rendered almost unusable and overhead electric cables supplying power to trains and engines have been torn off their poles and tractions. Restoration work is underway, officials said.
All local and long distance trains coming from Arakkonam (over 30 km north of Chennai) towards Chennai Central were stopped enroute, the railway spokesperson said, adding that services would resume by about 3 p.m.
“I’m going to miss my important meeting for negotiating a letter of credit worth Rs.110 million and tying up supplies,” said N.S. Veeraraghavan, an executive stranded at Perambur, - some 5 km north of the Chennai central rail terminal.
The family of S.K. Vimalanathan, who was scheduled to be married Wednesday, was stuck at Pattathiram 12 km further north.
“Forcing my aged parents and relatives to alight on the tracks with luggage is out of question. We will have to delay the entry into the marriage hall beyond 3 p.m., when the next auspicious hour begins,” said S. Krishnamurthy, the groom’s father.