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Peruman Train Tragedy: Kerala's biggest train accident that claimed 105 lives 36 years ago

A devastating train accident occurred on July 8, 1988, when the Island Express derailed and fell into Ashtamudi Lake, resulting in over 100 deaths. Despite rescue efforts, many bodies were only recovered days later.

Peruman Train Tragedy: Kerala's biggest train accident that claimed 105 lives 36 years ago anr
First Published Jul 8, 2024, 9:19 AM IST

Kollam: Today marks the 36th anniversary of the devastating Peruman tragedy, in which 9 coaches of the Island Express train bound for Thiruvananthapuram derailed and plunged into Ashtamudi Lake, claiming 105 lives. Each year, family members and loved ones of the victims gather to pay tribute and lay flowers in memory of those who perished. The disaster also left over 200 people injured, and many survivors still grapple with the trauma, reliving the horrors of that fateful afternoon through recurring nightmares.

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On July 8, 1988, the Island Express train was traveling from Bangalore to Thiruvananthapuram when disaster struck. At 12:20 pm, while crossing the Peruman bridge near Munrothuruthu, the train derailed and plummeted into Ashtamudi Lake. The 125-meter-long bridge couldn't withstand the speed of 80 km/h, resulting in 9 out of 15 coaches sinking into the water. Quick-thinking local fishermen rushed to the scene in boats to initiate rescue efforts, followed by the arrival of the fire department. 

Despite the valiant rescue efforts, the tragedy claimed over 100 lives, with some bodies only recovered five days later. The then-Railway Safety Commissioner, Sooryanarayanan, attributed the disaster to a cyclone that allegedly hit the bridge during the noon hours. However, local fishermen and their families vehemently disputed this claim, stating that no such cyclone occurred. Furthermore, the absence of damage in nearby areas cast doubt on the official explanation, leading many to believe that the true cause of the tragedy remains unknown.

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