Even as different probe teams begin their investigation into the Indore-Patna Express accident, Railways today suspended five senior officials and transferred Jhansi Divisional Manager (DRM), with blood samples of the two drivers sent for alcohol test.
The death toll in Sunday's mishap rose to 150, making it the deadliest train accident in the last 17 years with four more persons, including a 12-year-old boy, succumbing to their injuries.
Senior Divisional Mechanical Engineer (Carriage and wagon) Navaid Talib, Divisional Engineer M K Mishra, Senior Section Engineer Ambika Ojha, Section Engineer Iswar Das and Senior Section Engineer Sushil Kumar Gupta were suspended for dereliction of duty while DRM of Jhansi Division S K Aggarwal was transferred.
While Jhansi DRM was transferred to Ranchi, the five officials were suspended pending inquiry.
"It was very necessary to take action to fix responsibility. Suspension and transfer order was issued pending inquiry being conducted by the Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS)," said a senior Railway Ministry official.
Meanwhile, blood samples of the two drivers of the train have been sent to a lab to ascertain if they were in an inebriated condition that could have caused the deadly derailment, Railway Safety Commissioner P K Acharya said.
"Blood samples of both the drivers have been sent to a laboratory for tests. I can make further comments once the laboratory sends the reports," he said while replying to questions on whether the drivers were under the influence of alcohol.
Acharya, who is probing the accident and had inspected the site yesterday, said it may take about two-three days to complete the inquiry and the report will be submitted to the government in a month's time.
The statements of the driver, the assistant driver, a police inspector and a few other people have been recorded, he said, adding that this is first round of questioning and there will be more rounds.
He said samples of the broken railway track have been brought to Kanpur and are being sent for examination to the Research Designs and Standards Organisation's (RDSO) laboratory.
A 12-member team of Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel has also been formed to investigate the derailment.
On being told that the GRP had registered FIRs against unknown people and is also investigating the matter, Acharya said he had nothing to do with the GRP's probe.
Acharya said his work is to investigate the reasons for the accident, identify the culprits and suggest ways to avoid a similar mishap, but the final action will be decided by the railways.
"My job ends once I submit the report. Future action and improvements for safety will be decided by the railways," he said.
The deaths reported from hospitals pushed the toll to 150 even as railway services resumed on Jhansi-Kanpur section after damaged tracks were replaced between Pukhrayan and Malasa stations.
"Ram Singh, 52, and Abhay Shrivastava, 12, passed away during treatment at Regency and Hallet hospital of Medical College here," Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Ramayan Prasad said. The identity of two other deceased was not known.
With these deaths, the derailment of the train 19321 has become the deadliest rail accident since August 2, 1999 when 290 persons were killed after two trains carrying a total of 2,500 people collided at Gaisal in Assam.
Prasad said the condition of six persons is serious. 145 bodies have been identified and handed over to the families after post-mortem. The autopsy of five other bodies will be conducted after they are identified, he added.
Meanwhile, train services resumed on the affected section, where 14 coaches were derailed in the wee hours of November 20, disrupting traffic on the route. Four trains were cancelled and 14 diverted after the accident.
Kanpur IGP Zaki Ahmed said that besides replacing rails, electrical works were completed to ensure train operation on the busy route.
"The route became operational last night after the damaged tracks were removed from the site. A trial run was conducted on the tracks before the resumption of train services," he said.
According to prima facie investigation, 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express were derailed at Pukhrayan in Jhansi division near Kanpur due to rail fracture.
A high-level probe was yesterday ordered by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who promised "strictest possible action" against the guilty.
(With PTI inputs)