Fourteen bogies were derailed. This led to disruption of rail traffic on the Howrah-Chennai route.
According to eyewitnesses, five of the coaches that jumped the track flipped over several times. No rescue team, either from the railways or the district administration, had arrived even one hour after the incident. Private individuals and local organisations rushed to the spot and dragged the trapped passengers out.
Passengers said they heard a loud sound from the wheels and the tracks of the train before it derailed.
Railways authorities said it would take until Saturday evening, Feb 14 to restart train services on the route.
They rushed the injured to the nearest hospital at Danagadi.
Officials were tightlipped about the cause of the accident. “Nothing can be said about the cause of the accident at this moment," railway officials said.
Local people engaged in the rescue operation said over the telephone that the death toll might rise as the jammed doors were yet to be cut open. Two special relief trains have been dispatched to the spot.
Ironically, the tragedy took place just a few hours after Railways Minister Lalu Prasad boasted of declining accidents in the railways.
Darkness hampered rescue operations and several passengers of the train are believed to be trapped inside the bogies, said. East Central Railway CPRO JP Mishra.
He announced Rs five lakh and a job for the next of the kin of the dead, Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured and Rs 10,000 for those with minor injuries.
Rescue operation is on at the site. Railway helpline numbers: (033) 26411416, 26413660; (044) 25024545, 25024548, 25357387, 25354854.&13;
OneIndia News (With inputs from Agencies)