An accidental fall of a boulder on the railway tracks following a minor landslide was blamed for the derailment of 11compartments of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus-bound Kasara local, which in turn, was rammed by a speeding Vidarbha Express near Khardi station on Thursday night, killing a 65-year-old woman and injuring 14 others.
On Thursday night, the Kasara local moving at a speed of around 70 kmph was hit by a boulder, which had fallen from one of the hillocks near the tracks. Following this, as many as 11 coaches of the 12-coach train were derailed.
According to an official statement from the CR, the express train hit the local within two to three minutes, resulting in the derailment of its engine. Also, since the alert loco pilot of the Express train had applied the emergency brakes following a warning signal from the local, one compartment climbed over another and a total of four compartments of the train were derailed.
Chairman of the Railway Board, Vinay Mittal, who visited the accident site on Friday morning, pointed out that the two trains did not have any buffer time and they converged at the spot within a few minutes. “There was a difference of hardly a minute between the derailment of the local and the Vidarbha Express,” he said.
Out of the 14 injured, four suffered from grievous injuries and were shifted to Suvidha Hospital in Nashik, while 10 others were admitted to Kasara Hospital. Railway officials said Shakeela Qureshi, 65, was one among the many in the first few coaches of the local who panicked and jumped out. “She suffered injuries after jumping down from the local on the tracks. The panic of being hit by another train may have caused her to jump from the local train,” said a senior CR official. This incident has prompted the railway to find more effective ways to deal with such situations, especially in areas with presence of natural features like hillocks or boulders.
“We are thinking about how people could be better protected in areas which have the presence of big rocks,” said KH Muniyappa, minister of state for railways. The CR has ordered a probe into the mishap.