Anantapur (AP), : A Congress MLA from Karnataka was among five persons killed when a speeding granite-laden truck rammed into Bangalore-Nanded Express train after breaking the closed gate at a level crossing in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in the wee hours today.
The truck broke the closed boom gate at Madakasira after “overlooking all safety warnings” and hit the H-1 coach of the Nanded-bound train at around 2.20 AM. Four coaches — H1, B-1, S-1 and S-2 — were derailed in the mishap which disrupted traffic on the route, the South Western Railway said.
Venkatesh Naik, Congress MLA from Deodurg in Raichur district of Karnataka who has been a four-time Lok Sabha MP, was among three passengers killed on the spot, DIG of Anantapur, K Satyanarayana, told PTI, adding two others were injured and shifted to hospital in Bangalore.
A railway employee and the truck driver were among five persons killed in the accident, railways said. However, the DIG said the truck cleaner was killed in the midhap while the drive fled. He said it appeared the truck’s brakes had failed, but the actual cause of the accident will be ascertained after an inquiry.
The AC bogie was crushed and three sleeper coaches of the train also derailed in the incident, he said. Anantapur district borders Karnataka and is located around 350 km from Hyderabad.
Many trains were affected in the section and have been diverted, according to Railway officials. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said it was an unfortunate incident and conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims. He said ex-gratia will be given to the affected.
In a statement, Railways said the manned level crossing gate was closed to facilitate safe passage of Train No 16594 and red flasher light showing danger was on and continuous siren/hooter was sounded to warn the road users.
Besides, there are speed breakers before the L C Gate and the area is well-lit, it said.
The loaded vehicle approached the level crossing at high speed, broke the closed boom gate and hit the H-1 coach of the running train. The truck driver did not heed to any of the warnings, the Railways said, adding it resulted in derailment of four coaches.
The derailment was due to “road lorry hitting the train at closed Level Crossing Gate overlooking all safety warnings,” it said in statement.
Railway has also released help line numbers at Bangalore City Railway Station: 080 22354108, 09731666751, 080 22156553; at Penukonda Station: 0855220244.
Andhra Pradesh Information Minister P Raghunath Reddy, who hails from Anantapur district, told reporters that postmortem has been conducted on the five bodies at the Penukonda Hospital in the district.
He said the cause of the accident, as to whether the brakes of the vehicle failed or its driver was drunk or he fell asleep, would be ascertained in the investigation.
He also sought an ex-gratia of more than Rs 10 lakh to the families of the victims.
Recalling that train accidents occurred in Anantapur district in the past as well, Reddy said that the state government would write to the Centre for taking appropriate measures to prevent occurrence of such tragedies in future, especially at railway crossings.