Bhopal: Twin back-to-back train derailment took place at the same spot in Madhya Pradesh around midnight on Tuesday, with several bogies and engines of Varanasi-bound Kamayani Express and Mumbai-bound Janata Express falling into a swollen river. Casualties are not yet known, authorities said.
Kamayani Express, which runs between Mumbai’s Lokmanya Tilak Terminus station to Varanasi Junction in Uttar Pradesh, was derailed around midnight near Khiriya village in Harda district, about 160 km from here, Superintendent of Police Prem Babu Sharma told IANS.
He added that “two-four bogies of the train have fallen into the Machak river and due to rain and darkness it may take hours to confirm the casualties”.
I.B. Siddiqui, a spokesperson for the West Central Railway, said that Janata Express also derailed within minutes of the first accident while crossing the same bridge over the Machak river. The train was on its way to Mumbai from Jabalpur.
“The engine and at least one of the bogies of Janata Express have fallen into the river,” Siddiqui said, adding that rescue efforts have been launched and many senior officials of the railway and administration have reached the spot.
“Rushing emergency medical & other relief personnel to spot. Darkness,water creating hurdles but ordered all possible help. Trying our best,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted after the accident.
He added that efforts are being made “to pull back [the] trains”.
“Local villagers, Admn r also in rescue operation. Everything that’s necessary and possible being done. Constant in touch with CM MP & Rail off,” the minister said in another tweet.
India aborted the launch Monday of a spacecraft intended to land on the far side of the moon less than an hour before liftoff.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission was called off when a “technical snag” was observed in the 640-ton, 14-story rocket launcher, Indian Space Research Organization spokesman B.R. Guruprasad said.
The countdown abruptly stopped at T-56 minutes, 24 seconds, and Guruprasad said that the agency would announce a revised launch date soon.
Chandrayaan, the word for “moon craft” in Sanskrit, is designed for a soft landing on the lunar south pole and to send a rover to explore water deposits confirmed by a previous Indian space mission.
With nuclear-armed India poised to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, the ardently nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to show off the country’s prowess in security and technology. If India did manage the soft landing, it would be only the fourth to do so after the U.S., Russia and China.
Dr. K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, said at a news conference last week that the estimated $140 million Chandrayaan-2 mission was the nation’s “most prestigious” to date, in part because of the technical complexities of soft landing on the lunar surface, an event he described as “15 terrifying minutes.”
After countdown commenced Sunday, Sivan visited two Hindu shrines to pray for the mission’s success.
Practically since its inception in 1962, India’s space program has been criticized as inappropriate for an overpopulated, developing nation.
But decades of space research have allowed India to develop satellite communications and remote sensing technologies that are helping solve everyday problems at home, from forecasting fish migration to predicting storms and floods.
With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission this month, the world’s biggest space agencies are returning their gaze to the moon, seen as ideal testing grounds for technologies required for deep space exploration, and, with the confirmed discovery of water, as a possible pit stop along the way.
“The moon is sort of our backyard for training to go to Mars,” said Adam Steltzner, NASA’s chief engineer responsible for its 2020 mission to Mars.
Seeking water on the moon
Because of repeated delays, India missed the chance to achieve the first soft landing near the lunar south pole. China’s Chang’e 4 mission landed a lander and rover there last January.
India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission orbited the moon in 2008 and helped confirm the presence of water. The Indian Space Research Organization wants its new mission’s rover to further probe the far side of the moon, where scientists believe a basin contains water-ice that could help humans do more than plant flags on future manned missions.
The U.S. is working to send a manned spacecraft to the moon’s south pole by 2024.