Twenty two carriages roll out of control for seven miles in Odisha state before being stopped by rocks placed on track

Train rolls backwards for miles without engine in India – video

India’s railway ministry said a “ghastly” accident had narrowly been avoided after 22 passenger carriages carrying about 1,000 people became detached from a train engine and sped backwards for miles before being stopped.

The runaway carriages rolled for seven miles in the north-eastern state of Odisha before being brought to a shuddering halt by rocks placed on the tracks by railway staff.

A spokesman for the railway ministry’s eastern division said on Sunday that none of about 1,000 passengers had been injured in the incident on Saturday night.

Seven railway employees who were reported not to have followed proper procedures were suspended and an investigation was opened into how the carriages became separated during the journey from the western state of Gujarat to Odisha, said JP Mishra, a spokesman.

Authorities believe that brakes normally applied when carriages are detached or attached to an engine were either incorrectly used or overlooked altogether.

“Something ghastly could have happened and it was averted by alert staff. Safety cannot be compromised,” Mishra told AFP. He said more heads were likely to roll, adding: “Everybody in the railways [ministry] is aghast and shocked.”

Mobile footage posted on social media showed the carriages speeding past a railway platform as helpless onlookers screamed and yelled at passengers to pull the train’s emergency brake.

More than 22 million passengers commute daily on about 9,000 trains across India.

The incident is the latest to beset the creaking rail network, which dates to the colonial era. Last November 13 coaches of an express train derailed in northern India, killing three people and leaving nine injured. A year before, 146 people died in a similar disaster.

A 2012 government report said that almost 15,000 people were killed in various ways every year on India’s railways and described the loss of life as an annual “massacre”.
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