Eighteen passengers were killed and more than 60 injured when the engine and four coaches of a passenger train derailed here in Maharashtra Sunday, Home Minister RR Patil said. "Eighteen lives have been lost in the tragedy," Patil told the media after visiting the accident site.
He said the derailment may have occurred due to technical problems. "We are giving all possible help to the victims' families and providing medical attention to the injured." The railway ministry announced an ex-gratia of Rs.200,000 to the families of the deceased, Rs.50,000 to those grievously injured and Rs.10,000 to those with minor injuries. The accident took place near Nagothane, around 100 km south of Mumbai, when the crowded coaches of the Diva-Sawantwadi train jumped the tracks along with the engine at 9.40 am.
The injured were rushed to hospitals in Nagothane and Roha in Raigad district.
Central Railway officials said relief and rescue trains were sent to the accident site from Thane and Mumbai. Work was on to remove the derailed bogies and engine to clear the tracks.
Passenger and goods trains traffic on the Konkan Railway network has been paralysed, an official spokesperson said in Mumbai.
Several long distance trains on Konkan and Central rail network have been cancelled, terminated ahead of destination or diverted. Konkan Railway has made arrangements for special buses to ferry thousands of passengers, mostly vacationers either bound to and from Goa and Kerala, to reach various destinations.
Meanwhile, massive traffic snarls were reported at various points on the usually busy Mumbai-Goa highway following the derailment. Many of the stranded passengers complained that there were no alternate forms of transport available and that private buses, cabs and autos fleeced them.