May 27 2020
Chitheri wakes up to tragedy
13 September 2011

At least 10 persons were killed and 100 others injured when a speeding passenger train rammed into a stationary train here, leading to derailment of five coaches.

The Chennai Beach-Vellore Cantonment Mainline Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) train rammed into the Arakkonam-Katpadi passenger from behind as it was waiting for a signal at Chitheri station, about 90 km from Chennai, around 9:40 p.m. last night, police and railway officials said.

Bodies of seven have been recovered and efforts were on to retrieve the others buried under the mangled bogies, IG North Zone Shailendra Babu said.

He said nearly 100 people including the driver of the MEMU train were injured and of them 83 were admitted to nearby Arakkonam Government hospital. Later, 25 injured were shifted to Chennai for treatment, he said, adding “all of them are out of danger”.

Southern Railway General Manager Deepak Krishan said the MEMU driver had apparently ignored the signal and speed restrictions.

The Arakonam-Katpadi passenger was waiting for the signal. Being an automatic signalling territory, trains move one after another in this section, he said.

“Normally the previous signal would be danger (red). But apparently the MEMU train driver has not adhered to the signal,” he said.

Officials said the last bogie of the stationary passenger train bore the brunt under the impact of the collision.

The impact of the collision could be gauged from the heap of mangled metal and derailed bogies which the rescue workers are trying to clear.

Personnel of Tamil Nadu Commando police, Special police and National Disaster Response Force besides Naval personnel from the nearby INS Rajali base have been deployed for rescue and relief works, which were initially hampered by heavy rains and poor light.

Passengers’ bags and other belongings and metal parts of the train were seen strewn around the site which became slushy because of heavy overnight rains.

The accident disrupted running of several trains to Coimbatore and Bangalore in the Chennai-Katpadi section and both the up and down track were expected to be restored by around 6 PM today, they said.

Tamil Nadu Health Minister Dr. V.S. Vijay visited the accident spot last night along with district officials and reviewed the relief measures.

Village wakes up to big bang

Chitheri, the sleepy village in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district, woke up to the sound of a big bang caused by collision of two trains here with locals initially mistaking it to a ‘bomb blast’

“We all first thought it was a bomb blast. The sound was so deafening. But later we realised that it was a train accident.

When I reached the spot, it was dark and smoke had engulfed the area,” Mr. Chidambaram, a local resident, who was among the first to reach the spot, said.

For daily commuters who travel by the two trains, the accident turned out to be shocking experience last night as none would have expected that a routine halt at a signal could shatter their return home and land them in hospital.

The impact of the collision was so powerful that three coaches of the stationary train and two of the MEMU train were thrown off the track.

The guard of the stationary train and a station master of nearby Wallajabad, who was on his way to work, were among those killed.

Heaps of mangled metal, broken parts of trains and personal belongings of the passengers were scattered around the spot.

Despite heavy rains and pitched darkness, the National Disaster Response Force personnel and other rescue workers were busy helping people and using gas cutters to prise through the badly damaged bogies.

Both the trains were packed with commuters who travel to Chennai and Katpadi daily for work and vice-versa. Tiffin boxes of the passengers were also strewn around in the area.

Moving scenes were witnessed at the Arakkonam Government Hospital where several of the 100 injured had been admitted as anxious relatives thronged looking for their dear ones.

The seriously injured numbering around 25 have been shifted to Chennai, about 100 km from here.

The driver of the MEMU train was among those injured and was not in a condition to narrate how the mishap took place.

Mr. Ramamurthy (49), an employee of a private firm in Ambattur on Chennai outskirts, who was travelling in the MEMU along with his niece, recounted the tense moments.

“I heard a loud noise but did not know what happened. There was no light and there was smoke all around. First we though it was a bomb blast,” he said at the Government Hospital.

Similar was the experience of Shanthi of Manavaram and her two sons, daily wagers who commute by the train to Chennai. “I heard the sound and in a flash I found myself lying on the track. Then co-passengers helped me,” she said.



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