Four killed in mystery train collision near Chennai (Fourth Lead)

April 29th, 2009 - 5:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, April 29 (IANS) At least four people were killed when an empty train driven by an unidentified person took off from Chennai’s main railway station without permission and collided with a stationary train within minutes early Wednesday.
Railway officials admitted they were puzzled who drove the passenger train much before its scheduled departure from Chennai Central station. The accident took place at the Vyasarpadi Jeeva railway station, on Chennai’s outskirts.

Officials identified one of the dead as M. Mohan Raj.

S. Jayanth, acting general manager of Southern Railway, admitted that the rogue train shot off minus its designated crew and that an investigation was on.

“It is not clear who operated (it),” he said, adding that the speeding train breached the signals and travelled on the wrong track before ramming into the freight train.

The stationary train’s stunned motorman, assistant and guard jumped out to save themselves and suffered multiple fractures. They were among the 11 people who were injured and shifted to a hospital in Chennai.

The collision was so devastating that platforms at the Vyasarpadi Jeeva station were rendered almost unusable. Overhead electric cables supplying power to trains were torn off their poles and tractions.

Many of the train coaches were twisted and mangled because of the impact of the violent crash.

All local and long distance trains coming from Arakkonam, over 30 km north of Chennai, towards the Tamil Nadu capital were stopped.

Hundreds of people rushed to the site on hearing of the accident.

“We heard a loud noise and saw several compartments in flames. The smell emanating from bodies from the mangled coaches was nauseating,” said M.N. Selvi, who lives close to the railway tracks.

Railway workers used flames to cut open the twisted train cars.

Police sources said S. Karunanidhi, the motorman of the rogue train, was being questioned. The railways have announced compensation of Rs.15,000 to the kin of each of the dead.

In Patna, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad said an inquiry would be conducted into the incident.

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