Within hours of the presentation of the railway budget by Lalu Prasad Yadav, one of the most prestigious of Indian trains, the ‘Coromandel Express’, met with a severe accident when out of its 24 coaches, 14 coaches after the engine got derailed near Jajpur Road station of Orissa about 120Km from the provincial capital Bhubaneswar on the night13th Feb’09. The derailed coaches were 11 three-tier, two unreserved and one SLR coach.
A few hours back a beaming Railway Minister Mr.Yadav has boasted in parliament, during railway budget while presenting the data regarding substantial reduction in accidents and overall improvement in safety of railway travels over his five years tenure as Railway Minister.
The train was speeding at the designated maximum speed of 110km per hour when at 7.50pm the accident occurred. First hand reports suggest that three coaches nearest to the Engine were the worst hit. Also S1 to S3 and S6 to S8 coaches were badly damaged.
Local people, who came running after hearing the deafning sound of the accident, were the first to start rescue operations
Rescue operations were getting hampered because of darkness and railways have requisitioned rescue teams with gas cutter from nearby industries to help extricate people trapped inside badly damaged coaches. As many passengers were still trapped inside the overturned coaches, the railway officials fear that the dead count may steeply rise.
Lalu Prasad has ordered a probe into the accident. The cold fact is however that the number of consequential accidents has come down to 194 in 2007-08 compared to 325 in 2003-04. Minister of state for railways R.Velu and Railway board chairman S.S.Khurana has proceeded to the site of the accident.
As the train has left Howrah station at about 2.30pm, a large number of passengers were from West Bengal. One of the ministers Kanti Ganguly and two MPs Amitava Nandi and Sujan Chakrabarty, all from West Bengal left for accident site at night to overlook the rescue operations and comfort the passengers.