On October 19, 2018, when the entire country was celebrating Dussehra with usual zeal and devotion, tragedy befell Amritsar town. Nearly 60 people standing on railway tracks near a Ravan Dahan venue, watching the effigies of Ravan, Kumbhkarn, and Meghnad go up in flames, died after a speeding train crashed into them.
Over 70 people sustained injuries and are undergoing treatment in hospitals. Many are said to have lost their limbs.
They reportedly could not hear the train’s siren due to the noise of the exploding crackers.
In 2018, three other major train mishaps took place in India.
1. Uttar Pradesh, April 26
At least 13 schoolchildren lost their lives and eight others sustained injuries when a speeding passenger train crashed into a van at an unmanned railway crossing in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district. The van, carrying 20 students of Divine Mission School, Kushinagar, was badly crushed and many children died on the spot.
The train, 55075 Down, was on its way from Siwan to Gorakhpur when the accident occurred.
2. Maharashtra, May 6
Assistant train driver (loco pilot) SK Vishwakarma died while trying to put out a fire that broke out in the locomotive of the Mumbai-bound 12810 Howrah-Mumbai CSMT train. The incident took place at Dhamangaon, a municipal council in Amravati district of Maharashtra, roughly 135 km from Nagpur.
“The train stopped between Talni and Dhamangaon after the locomotive caught fire. Vishwakaram and loco-pilot DL Brahme, who had applied emergency brakes to stall the train, tried to douse the fire by using extinguishers provided for the purpose. However, in the process, Vishwakarma lost his life,” SG Rao, assistant commercial manager, Nagpur Railway Division, Central Railway had said after the incident.
He said the train drivers had handled the situation “bravely” and applied the emergency brakes on time effectively controlling the train.
3. Tamil Nadu, July 24
At least five people, including a schoolboy and three college students, died and an equal number were seriously injured at the St Thomas Mount Station on Chennai Beach-Tambaram section. The incident occurred when the Chennai Beach-Tirumalpur slow train (40701) was entering the St Thomas Mount station.
Since the train was crowded, many passengers were travelling on the footboard and many were hanging out. It is reported that the backpacks of a few passengers on the footboard hit the concrete track fence, crashing the passengers against the fence.
As a result of the impact of the crash, many passengers fell off the coach. Those who fell between the wall and track survived but suffered grievous injuries. Five persons who fell on the track were run over by the train.
4. Uttar Pradesh, October 10
Six coaches of the Delhi-bound New Farakka Express derailed at Harchandpur railway station in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, about 60 km from the capital Lucknow, killing seven people. Nine sustained severe injuries in the accident.