"The derailment led to two coaches (eighth and ninth) telescoping into each other, resulting in nine fatalities and severe injuries to 10 co-passengers during the journey," a railway official told IANS here.
Bodies of all the victims were extricated from the twin coaches and the injured were taken to hospitals at Anekal and Bengaluru for emergent treatment. The bodies were later shifted to a state-run hospital in the city for identification by their relatives Saturday.
A National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) team conducted the rescue and relief operations at the accident site, while the stranded passengers were shifted to Anekal, Hosur and Bengaluru in state-run transport buses for their onward journey. The express train departed from the main city station here at 6.15 a.m. and had covered only 45 km when the disaster struck between Anekal road and Hosur town on the state border.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who flew into Bengaluru with Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mital late afternoon, met the injured passengers in the hospitals at Anekal and Bengaluru. He also announced Rs.2 lakh compensation to the families of each victim and Rs.50,000 to each of the grievously injured. The minister ordered an inquiry to ascertain the cause of the accident.
Though cause of the derailment has not been known, Prabhu told reporters quoting the diesel engine driver that a boulder fell on the single track which could not be seen from a distance due to foggy conditions in the area.
"The first nine coaches of the train went off the track after the engine hit the boulder and derailed," he said, citing the driver's statement. South Western Railway (SWR) general manager P.K. Saxena, however, said a thorough investigation would reveal the real cause of derailment. "It is difficult to explain what exactly caused the engine and the coaches to derail without proper investigation into the incident," Saxena told reporters without referring to the boulder aspect.
The SWR has set up help desks at the Bengaluru station and the accident site to assist the injured and the stranded passengers.
As the sudden accident affected movement of passenger and freight trains on the route throughout Friday, the SWR cancelled for Saturday three passenger trains from Bengaluru to Hosur and one to Karaikal in Tamil Nadu and diverted the Bengaluru-Ernakulam Intercity express and Tirunalevali-Dadar Chalukya express.