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Emergency brakes, locals prevented casualties

By Staff Reporter
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GUWAHATI, July 11 � A number of factors perhaps helped contain the adverse effects of the bomb blast that derailed and capsized several coaches of the Puri Express on Sunday night that miraculously did not result in any deaths. A major reason could have been the prompt action of the loco pilot who had engaged the emergency brakes after seeing a sudden flash of light on the railway tracks, according to sources in the NF Railway.

By the time the train had passed over the damaged tracks and sleepers, the locomotive and the coaches were already at a reduced speed, which lowered the severity of damage to the coaches and saved the passengers.

Prompt action by local villagers was the other key factor that helped in rescuing and evacuating passengers from the four coaches that had capsized.

At the site, around 2.5 km from the Ghograpar Railway Station, four of the coaches capsized, four were derailed and nearly 300 metres of track were damaged, revealed NFR officials.

Fortunately, there were no casualties. Around 77 people were initially hurt, but most of them sustained minor injuries and have now been released from hospitals, according to the NFR. Three people, however, had �grievous injuries� and are undergoing treatment in Guwahati.

Those with grievous injuries include Sunanda Roy, Maya Rani Dutta Choudhury and Krishna Dutta Choudhury. Roy was shifted to the Central Hospital, Maligaon, while the other two are being treated at the Gauhati Medical College Hospital.

The Railway Ministry has announced Rs 1 lakh as ex-gratia payment to those with grievous injuries and Rs 10,000 to those with minor injuries.

Soon after the blast was reported around 8.20 pm last night, Railway personnel from Rangiya rushed to the spot, and a high-level team comprising NFR General Manager Kehav Chandra and Chief Mechanical Engineer RS Birdi left from Maligaon. Rescue work started under their direct supervision and the stranded passengers who wanted to continue their journey were brought to Guwahati.

Following the accident, restoration work in the affected section was taken up and NFR officials believe that normal running of trains could start by tonight.

Meanwhile, Balbir Singh, Commissioner of Railway Safety, Northeast Frontier Railway Circle, Kolkata, will hold a statutory inquiry into the derailment of the 15640 Down Guwahati-Puri Express between Rangiya and Goghrapar. The inquiry will be held at the office of the Divisional Railway Manager, Rangiya from 10 am on July 13 and 14, an official release stated.

People having information and knowledge relating to the accident and any other matter connected with it may appear and depose or tender evidence at the inquiry on the dates mentioned above. Alternatively, they can write to the Commissioner of Railway Safety, NF Circle, 14 Strand Road, 12th Floor, New Koilaghat Building, Kolkata-700001.

In a press note, the Save Guwahati Build Guwahati (SGBG) has alleged that the NF Railway was not at all prepared to respond to the accident and it failed to take any steps till 11 at night. The SGBG has, however, praised local youths who undertook rescue operations and the Health Department for taking immediate action.

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Emergency brakes, locals prevented casualties

GUWAHATI, July 11 � A number of factors perhaps helped contain the adverse effects of the bomb blast that derailed and capsized several coaches of the Puri Express on Sunday night that miraculously did not result in any deaths. A major reason could have been the prompt action of the loco pilot who had engaged the emergency brakes after seeing a sudden flash of light on the railway tracks, according to sources in the NF Railway.

By the time the train had passed over the damaged tracks and sleepers, the locomotive and the coaches were already at a reduced speed, which lowered the severity of damage to the coaches and saved the passengers.

Prompt action by local villagers was the other key factor that helped in rescuing and evacuating passengers from the four coaches that had capsized.

At the site, around 2.5 km from the Ghograpar Railway Station, four of the coaches capsized, four were derailed and nearly 300 metres of track were damaged, revealed NFR officials.

Fortunately, there were no casualties. Around 77 people were initially hurt, but most of them sustained minor injuries and have now been released from hospitals, according to the NFR. Three people, however, had �grievous injuries� and are undergoing treatment in Guwahati.

Those with grievous injuries include Sunanda Roy, Maya Rani Dutta Choudhury and Krishna Dutta Choudhury. Roy was shifted to the Central Hospital, Maligaon, while the other two are being treated at the Gauhati Medical College Hospital.

The Railway Ministry has announced Rs 1 lakh as ex-gratia payment to those with grievous injuries and Rs 10,000 to those with minor injuries.

Soon after the blast was reported around 8.20 pm last night, Railway personnel from Rangiya rushed to the spot, and a high-level team comprising NFR General Manager Kehav Chandra and Chief Mechanical Engineer RS Birdi left from Maligaon. Rescue work started under their direct supervision and the stranded passengers who wanted to continue their journey were brought to Guwahati.

Following the accident, restoration work in the affected section was taken up and NFR officials believe that normal running of trains could start by tonight.

Meanwhile, Balbir Singh, Commissioner of Railway Safety, Northeast Frontier Railway Circle, Kolkata, will hold a statutory inquiry into the derailment of the 15640 Down Guwahati-Puri Express between Rangiya and Goghrapar. The inquiry will be held at the office of the Divisional Railway Manager, Rangiya from 10 am on July 13 and 14, an official release stated.

People having information and knowledge relating to the accident and any other matter connected with it may appear and depose or tender evidence at the inquiry on the dates mentioned above. Alternatively, they can write to the Commissioner of Railway Safety, NF Circle, 14 Strand Road, 12th Floor, New Koilaghat Building, Kolkata-700001.

In a press note, the Save Guwahati Build Guwahati (SGBG) has alleged that the NF Railway was not at all prepared to respond to the accident and it failed to take any steps till 11 at night. The SGBG has, however, praised local youths who undertook rescue operations and the Health Department for taking immediate action.

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