The last time passenger deaths were reported in an accident were in March 22, 2019. Railway board chairman V K Tripathi and the director general (safety) rushed to the spot. Union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw also left for the site to take stock of the situation.
At least 250 passengers have been rescued from the wreckage. With several passengers still trapped inside two badly mangled bogies, officials fear the toll could rise further. There were 1,053 passengers on board, said a Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) official. Doctors said the condition of at least 10 injured was critical.
Sources said the train was travelling at 40kmph when the derailment occurred. The train left New Domohani station around 4.53pm and was heading to New Maynaguri when the mishap happened. The train had passengers who were returning to Assam to celebrate Bhogali Bihu, which marks the end of the harvest season in Assam. Railway officials said there were fewer passengers on board than usual on account of Covid.
Initially, it appears that a crack on the tracks caused the accident. Track repairs were reportedly under way on the stretch. A high-level railway safety inquiry has been ordered. Railway Board chairman VK Tripathi and the director general (safety) have rushed to the spot, as has railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.