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India: Gaisal Disaster - Report says negligence to blame

  : Wednesday, August 18, 1999
Negligence by Indian Railways' staff was to blame for the accident at Gaisal on 2 August 1999 according to a report by
India's Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety.

The accident between the Awadh Assam Express and the Brahamputra Express occurred at Gaisal station when the two trains met head-on.

In his report, the commisioner, Dr M. Mani condemns "short-circuiting of normal safety procedures". His report is quoted by the PTI as saying that the "accident is categorised as a failure of railway staff". The report also indicates that there is a possibility that the accident was caused maliciously stating "However, the mens rea (criminal intent) behind the failure of staff needs further investigation".

It would appear that it had been known to a number of railway staff that the "up" Awadh Assam Express had been switched to the "down" line, but all had failed to take any action. This was referred to in the report as "negligence and lack of alertness" on the part of both signal staff and the train crew.

Officers of the Northern Frontier Railway are exonerated by the report giving them a "clean chit" according to The Hindu.

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