Vizianagaram/Kunero (Andhra Pradesh): At least 27 passengers were killed and around 100 injured after nine coaches of the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Express derailed in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh with the railways suspecting foul play in the mishap.
The toll may go up as many passengers are feared trapped in the mangled coaches of the train.
The incident occurred on Saturday night at 11.30 p.m., near Kuneru station. The train was enroute to Odisha's capital city Bhubaneswar from Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh.
So far, death of 27 persons has been confirmed by a team of doctors that has rushed to the spot, said Mishra.
Railways suspect that tampering of the track near Kuneru station led to the derailment of the train.
"There is a strong indication of tampering with the track as the area is known to be a Naxal-prone zone and as Republic Day is approaching. Foul play cannot be ruled out," sources said.
According to Chief Public Relations Officer of East Coast Railway J.P. Mishra, seven coaches -- luggage van, two general coaches, two sleeper coaches, one AC three tier coach, one AC two tier coach -- and the engine derailed.
"Four accident relief vans have been sent to the accident site. The reason behind the incident is yet to be ascertained," Mishra said.
Army personnel has also been deployed to carry out rescue operations.
According to the Railways Ministry, 13 unaffected coaches left the accident site carrying passengers via Sambalpur and Angul. Bus services were also arranged for the passengers.
Officials said 22 injured were shifted to Parvathipuram government hospital. Seven patients were referred to Kin George Hospital of Visakhapatnam while seven were discharged after first aid.
A total of 32 injured were brought to Rayagada district hospital.
As there was complete darkness at the accident site, it took time for authorities to launch rescue and relief operations.
"All rescue and relief apparatus mobilised immediately," the ministry said.
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu was personally monitoring the situation.
The train had departed from Jagdalpur at 3 p.m. on Saturday and was scheduled to reach Bhubaneswar at 8.25 a.m. on Sunday. It off the track minutes after it entered Andhra Pradesh from Odisha.
Railways have set up helplines at various stations in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
The numbers for Vizianagaram are: 83331, 83332, 83333, 83334, 08922-221202, 08922-221206
Visakhapatnam: 83003, 83005, 83006, 0891-2746344, 0891-2746330, 08500358610, 08500358712
Rayagada: 06856-223400, 06856-223500, 09439741181, 09439741071, 07681878777
Bhubaneswar station: 06742543360.
Behrampur station: 06802229632.