Accidents on Chennai’s suburban rail network are not an unusual occurrence, with an incident reported every few weeks. But the accident that killed three people and badly injured four others on Thursday morning, is something that few could have expected.
At 9am, the express train was running between Palavanthangal and St Thomas Mount railway station, when the bag of a 20-year-old man named Manikandan got caught on a signal post alongside the train track. Pulled off the train, Manikandan grabbed another passenger, who in turn held onto another passenger. With each falling passenger grabbing another person for support, in a matter of seconds, seven people were pulled off the fast-moving train.
Madhusudhanan, (27), a chemist at the Chennai Civil Tech Lab who was travelling from Perangalathur to Guindy was one of the injured in the accident. He told The News Minute, “The train was less crowded than usual, three people were standing on the foot board. After that, I just remember falling from the train.”
Two of the seven people, 20-year-old Manikandan and 20-year-old Praveen Raj, died on the spot. Five more people were rushed to the Royapettah government hospital and then referred to the Rajiv Gandhi Hospital, as it is a neuro-specialty hospital. One more person succumbed to injuries at Rajiv Gandhi Hospital, at around 1.30pm. Four others, Devaraj, Madhusudhanan, Manikandan and Gopinathan, continue to be treated in the hospital.
K Raja, an eye witness to the accident, said that all seven people involved in the accident had been standing near the footboard. He also alleged that there was a delay in the ambulance reaching them. “The train was 15 minutes late today and all the seven people were standing on the footboard… After the accident, it took 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive and all the injured were shifted to a hospital,” he says.
However, officials of the Railway Police Force said that there had been no delay in the ambulance reaching the injured, and claimed that it reached within 15 minutes.
Those being treated in the hospital have mostly sustained injuries on their legs. A doctor from the hospital said, “Five patients were brought in and one person died. For the other four patients, we are sending them for CT scans. They have fractures, but there is no suspected head injury. But we can only confirm that after the CT scan reports come in,” he said.
Among the injured is Devaraj, who lost half his left foot in the accident. Meena,(27), Devaraj’s sister, said amidst a flood of tears, “We were informed that our brother was admitted to the hospital around 9.30am and we rushed here. Doctors have not told us much about his condition but we are tense. We want him to get well soon.”