Pune: Three persons lost their lives and eight others sustained serious injuries due to the gross negligence by the railway staff, who left a railway crossing gate open when an express train was passing by it near Yavat, about 40 km from Pune on Saturday morning.
The Secunderabad-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Duronto Express train number (12220) was on its way to Pune when it hit a tractor (MH 12 Q 1880) carrying 13 sugarcane labourers at the Khamgaon railway crossing at 7.10 am.
According to the Yavat police, the driver of the tractor, which was attached with two trailers, was unaware of the oncoming train when the accident took place. The tractor and the first trailer had just crossed the tracks when the speeding train hit the second one, which was carrying two women and two goats. The trailer got dismantled and was thrown some 80 feet from the spot. Both the women and the goats died on the spot while another person who was seated at the rear of the first trailer also died in the mishap.
The deceased have been identified as Khiroba Mahanvar (50), Indubai Handale (45), residents of Tambodi and Namdev Barde (55) of Macharwadi. The injured were rushed to Shree Seva Hospital in Yavat and later shifted to Noble Hospital in Hadapsar. State home minister R R Patil also visited the accident spot.
Kadubai Mohite (28), who was lucky to escape with a swollen ankle and wrist, said “After we saw the train nearing us, we started screaming but there was no way to jump out of the trailer. All I remember is that I was thrown in the air and when I opened my eyes I found myself in the hospital.”
Meanwhile, the railway police handed over the erring gateman Jairam Dharmsingh Yaday (32), a resident of Rajasthan, to the local police.
RPF divisional security commissioner Ashok Kumar Ray said, “It is a case of gross negligence as Yadav failed to crosscheck with the Yavat railway station about the oncoming train and opened the railway gate due to which the accident took place.”
Yadav, who was posted at the Khamgaon railway gate crossing just eight days ago, said, “As the power supply goes off in the morning, I was calling the Yavat railway station to check if any train was coming or not. As there was no reply from their end, I thought of opening the railway crossing gate. When I saw the train coming I tried to stop people but it was too late.”
Public relations officer, Pune division, Yogendra Kumar Singh said, “Thankfully, the train did not derail or else it could have led to more deaths, including those of railway passengers. The tractor driver is at fault, as despite being warned by the gateman, he deliberately tried to cross the tracks. However, the railways has announced a compensation of Rs 50,000 to the next of kin of the deceased, Rs 25000 to the injured and Rs 5000 for minor injuries. The Duronto Express was stopped for an hour but movement of other trains from Pune was not affected.”