Peruman railway accident
Memorial at Peruman
|Date||8 July 1988.|
|Location||Ashtamudi Lake, Kollam district, Kerala|
|Rail line||Kollam – Ernakulam line between stations Kollam and Munrothuruthu|
|Operator||Southern Railway Zone|
|Type of incident||Derailment|
In the Peruman railway accident, the (Train No:26) Bangalore - Thiruvananthapuram Central Island Express train derailed on the Peruman bridge over Ashtamudi Lake, near Perinadu, Kollam, Kerala, India and fell into the lake, killing 105 people on 8 July 1988.
The accident occurred at Peruman bridge over Ashtamudi Lake on 8 July 1988 at around 13:15 Hrs. Ten bogie carriages of the Train Number:26 Island Express, travelling from Bangalore to Thiruvananthapuram Central, derailed and fell into the lake.Of the 14 coaches, only the engine, the parcel van and a second class compartment had crossed the bridge when the derailment occurred.Two of the nine coaches that fell into the water turned upside down.
The rescue operations was started immediately by the local people of Perumon and Munrothuruthu who were residing near the bridge.The injured were rushed to Kollam's district hospital and nearby private clinics. Realising the scale of the tragedy, three helicopters and over 100 navy divers were also pressed into service from Cochin, 140 km away. Union Minister of State for Railways Madhavrao Scindia, accompanied by Railway Board members, flew down in a chartered plane to supervise the rescue operations. Scindia announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. lakh (100,000) each to relatives of each of the dead.105 people lost their lives and around 200 people were injured.
The exact cause of the accident is still unknown.
A first inquiry conducted by the Commissioner for Railway Safety attributed the cause of train accident to a tornado. This finding has been widely disputed by the general public.
As per P. Venugopal, The Hindu news paper's correspondent for Alappuzha district then:
|“||We had no reporter for Kollam at that time and I was supposed to cover Kollam district also. The accident happened around 1.15 p.m. I remember I got a phone call from a friend in Malayala Manorama around 1.45 p.m. saying a big tragedy has occurred at Perumon. Those days there was no mobile phone. It was sheer luck to get the information so fast. I had an old ambassador car. I remember driving at 80s and 90s and reaching the spot by 3.30. I remember vividly everything that I saw and did over the next three days camping in Kollam to cover the tragedy, but if I write all that it is going to take a lot of space in the comment column here.
Months later, the Chief Railway Safety Commissioner called me also for the inquiry. I was asked to bring with me the notes I had scribbled on those days, talking to witnesses etc. Suryanarayana (the Chief Safety Commissioner), interviewed me for nearly one hour during his sitting in TVM. After his finding was published, I realised he had been, all through the questioning, trying to get from me depositions to strengthen his pre-decided tornado theory. I had filed a story in our paper about a person who was crossing the bridge when the train chugged its way on to the bridge (This report was, what we call in the profession, an 'exclusive'.) He had stepped into one of those pedestrian boxes they have on such bridges. His version of seeing the bogies falling into the river all around him, somehow by luck sparing him, was presented in my report with the full drama of the experience. He had spoken to me about the whistling sound of the wind and a slight drizzle that was on and I was a cub reporter those days and I had pitched the whole thing strong. My report was one of the things Mr. Suryanarayana had used to substantiate the tornado theory, I fear.
- Track alignment and faulty wheels
A second inquiry, prompted by public outrage, revealed that problems in track alignment and faulty wheels of coaches were responsible for the tragedy.
The following possible causes, even though not officially acknowledged, have received widespread attention in media.
Some eyewitness are quoted saying that the train was running too fast for the bridge at the time of accident.
- Track maintenance work
Some track maintenance may have been going on at the railway bridge. A report alleges the maintenance workers called up the nearest station and inquired about the passing trains. They were told that the Island Express which was due to pass is running late. The blog asserts the workers had lifted a section of rail and the repair was underway, then the workers went for a break, leaving the separated rail, assured that the train was not due. The train kept the right time and derailed on the bridge.
In popular culture
Perumon tragedy was featured in 1990 Malayalam movie Iyer the Great .There is a short movie by Shankar Ramakrishnan that has been titled as "Island Express".The movie describes about the connection of different people and their journey after the accident.
- Peruman Train Tragedy asianetindia.com
- Argument over Why Island Express Train accident Occurred Continues indiatoday.intoday.in
- Unexplained disaster indiatoday.intoday.in
- Perumon Tragedy Victims remembered Thehindu.com
- Was it the bridge, or the bogies? frontline.in
- The Truth about the Tornado mytravelsmylife.blogspot.in