Here’s a Look at the Worst Train Accidents in India’s History

Video Producer: Fabeha Syed

Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

Over 60 people were killed in a major train accident that took place near Amritsar’s Jora Phatak on Friday, 19 October. The train plowed into a crowd gathered on and near the railway tracks watching the Dussehra celebrations around 7 pm.

This is one of the recent tragedies which has resulted in death of several people.

Here’s a look at some of the worst train tragedies in India:

1. Bihar Train Derailment, 6 June 1981

On 6 June 1981, seven of nine coaches of a passenger train carrying nearly 900 passengers derailed and fell into the Bagmati river in Bihar, resulting in what was possibly one of the worst train tragedies India has seen.

United News of India had reported that the death toll from the accident was recorded at 215 initially and 300 people were reported missing.

Over 500 people were reported to have been travelling in the train.

While the reason behind the accident could not be ascertained and an official explanation was never provided, it is believed that the derailment was caused due to flash floods and cyclones.

Also Read: At Least 60 Dead After Being Run Over by a Train in Amritsar 

Another speculation suggested that, in a bid to avoid hitting a cow crossing the railway tracks, the driver of the train applied sudden brakes which resulted in last seven coaches of the passenger train overturning and falling into the river.

According to a report published in The New York Times on 9 June 1981, divers were recruited to conduct search operations in the riverbed of Bagmati.

2. Firozabad Train Collision, 20 August 1995

India saw another tragic train accident in 1995 when a collision between two Delhi bound trains in Uttar Pradesh’s Firozabad resulted in the death of nearly 300 people.

PTI had reported that even after nearly 20 hours of the accident, railway officials said more than 200 bodies were recovered.

According to the reports, over 2,000 people were onboard and sleeping when the Purushottam Express rammed into the Kalindi Express. Kalindi Express had stopped suddenly after hitting a cow on the tracks, a development which wasn’t communicated by the signalman to the driver of Purushottam Express

While three cars of the Kalindi Express were suffered huge damage, the engine and two carriages of Purushottam Express were thrown off the tracks due to the impact of collision. The tragedy is considered to be the worst train accident in India after 1981.

Incidentally, the tragedy occurred within days of former prime minister taking charge of the railway ministry portfolio.

3. Gaisal Train Crash, 1 August, 1999

More than 300 people were killed after Awadh-Assam Express rammed into Brahmaputra Mail in West Bengal’s station Gaisal on 1 August, 1999. Nearly 2,500 people were onboard when the accident took place which was considered to be a man

According to a report by The Financial Express, it was too late before the driver of already approaching Brahmaputra train saw Awadh-Assam train and a curve before the station building blocked the view of the train driver who could not see the track. Gross miscalculation and miscommunication between station masters led to the tragedy.

The findings of Central Bureau of Investigation divulged that the accident was not a result of a “momentary failure”, Hindustan Times had reported and it was largely reported to be a “human failure”.

“The concerned railwaymen had 20 minutes time to avoid the accident which occurred due to error in operation and was a case of negligence of duty,” Hindustan Times had reported, quoting CBI’s advocate Partha Tapaswee.

4. Khanna Rail Tragedy, 26 November 1998

A broken rail track caused a major railway accident on 26 Novemer in 1998 in Punjab when Calcutta-bound Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express collided with already derailed six coaches of Frontier Mail, resulting in the death of 212 people.

Several others were injured in an accident which occured due to a missing piece on railway track causing the Frontier Mail to derail.

The Jammu Tawi- Sealdah express was carrying nearly 2,500 passengers.

5. Kushinagar Train Accident, 26 April 2018

In a tragic accident which claimed 13 lives of school children and 8 were injured, school bus carrying nearly 25 students collided with a speeding train. The accident happened at an unmanned crossing in Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar, around 50 kilometres from Gorakhpur. Most of the children in the bus were below 10 years of age.

According to the officials at the railway ministry, the accident took place because the driver was ignorant of the train movement while passing the unmanned crossing and had earphones plugged in his ears when he was driving.

The accident occurred when the school bus of Divine Public School, carrying nearly 25 students, was passing through the unmanned crossing gate at Behpurva in Khushinagar and collided with the speeding train, an official told PTI, adding that 13 children were killed on the spot.

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