At least two people were killed and over 100 injured after eight coaches of the Ranchi-Jammu Tawi Muri Express derailed in Uttar Pradesh's Kaushambi district on Monday afternoon, officials said.
The accident occurred between the Sirathu and Athsarai railway stations in the Allahabad-Kanpur sector of the rail zone, 173 km from here. The toll is feared to go up, said officials.
Three general sleeper coaches - S5, S6, S7 - and three air-conditioned coaches - three-tier B1 and B2 and two-tier A1 - along with the pantry car derailed while one coach capsized and fell in a ditch nearby, a district official told IANS.
Local villagers rushed to the rescue even before officials of the district administration reached the spot. The state government has announced a compensation of Rs.2 lakh each to the families of those who died.
The office of the chief secretary said that Kaushambi and health department officials have been asked to ensure prompt relief and rescue operations. Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan is personally monitoring the situation, said a home department official. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who is in France on a four-day visit, has been apprised of the accident.
The North-Central Railways (NCR) has meanwhile set up a helpline - 1072 - where people after prefixing the local STD code can enquire about the passengers travelling on the train. A relief train along with a crane and cutters has also been rushed to the spot while senior railway officials were also at the spot, said railway PRO Anil Saxena.
Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Daljeet Chowdhary said senior police officials have been sent to the accident site.
According to sources, 40 'keys' of the rail track were found missing on the same spot Sunday and the local police had been apprised about the discovery by villagers, said sources, adding that even a heavy 'jack' was found along the railway track. Confirming this, a senior official said that all aspects including sabotage were being probed.
Traffic on the Allahabad-Kanpur railway sector has come to a halt following the derailment.