PM expresses grief over West Bengal railway mishap

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New Delhi, May 28 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has expressed his grief over the loss of lives after 13 coaches of the Mumbai bound Howrah-Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Gyaneshwari Super Deluxe Express derailed in West Bengal on Friday morning.

"Dr Singh had asked the Railway and other authorities to ensure that all assistance was provided to the bereaved families, the injured and other passengers, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.

Dr Singh also announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakhs for the next of kin of each of those killed in the incident and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured, the statement added.

Thirteen bogies of the ill-fated express train were derailed near Jhargram in West Bengal's West Midnapore District at 1.30 am following several which were suspected to have been triggered by the Maoists.

Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai has confirmed the death of 65 people, saying the toll might go up.

Relief and rescue work is continuing on war scale at the accident site. A relief train has left from Kharagpur with a team of 12 doctors and 20 paramedics.

The Army has also been called in for rescue operations and a chopper with a team of doctors and essential relief materials from the Kalaikunda Air Force base has also been pressed into service.

Television images showed rescue workers using gas cutters to extricate trapped passengers and bodies from the mangled coaches of the express train.

Railway traffic on the Howrah-Mumbai route has been badly affected due to the accident, with several trains being cancelled or diverted to other rail routes.

The South Eastern Railway has cancelled the Howrah-Barbil Janshatabdi Express and Howrah-Jamshedpur Ispat Express.

The Hapa-Howrah express, Azad Hind express, Koraput- Howrah express, Ranchi Hatia express, Mumbai mail via Nagpur have been diverted. (ANI)

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