15 dead, 50 hurt in Bengal train collision

| | Kolkata
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15 dead, 50 hurt in Bengal train collision

Tuesday, 18 June 2024 | Saugar Sengupta | Kolkata

15 dead, 50 hurt in Bengal train collision

At least 15 people were killed and more than 50 injured — about a dozen grievously — when a goods train rammed into the tail of a slow moving Kanchenjangha Express at Rangapani area off New Jalpaiguri in North Bengal  early on Monday morning.

Among the dead are four railway staff, including two loco pilots of the goods trains and the guard of the ill-fated passengers’ train, as also an employee of the Railway Mail Services, sources said.

Death toll could mount as some passengers were still stuck inside the mangled bogie, sources said.

The horror of Coromandal Express incident returned at New Jalpaiguri when the driver of the goods train allegedly overshot the signal and collided with the Sealdah bound Express train which was coming from Agartala. A parallel view did not rule out technical problems or some kind of negligence on the part of the points men causing the two trains to come on the same track.

The accident occurring at about 8 on Monday morning tended to remind of the death of about 200 passengers when the ill-gated Coromandal Express collided last year with stationery goods train at Balasore in Odisha.

“I was walking back from the toilet when the train stopped at once with a big jerk … I thought the driver had applied emergency brake because it is not very uncommon to do so to save cattle but then there was commotion outside as people from the other coaches jumped out and ran towards the rear… I also followed them and found what really had happened… how a full coach had telescoped upon the engine of the goods train and how the people were screaming for help… many of them were stuck inside the mangled coach… before we could decide what to do villagers rushed in to start the rescue work.”

The accident happened when Kanchenjangha Express was travelling slowly apparently owing to heavy rains, said villagers, adding they heard a loud bang and “thought it was a thunder but then realised that trains had collided when we heard screams of passengers.”

While administrative help came about two hours later the locals jumped to rescue operations, said passengers,  adding “had the local villagers not been there some of the injured passengers would have bled to death.”

However, Darjeeling District Magistrate Preeti Goyal who visited the site and the North Bengal Medical College Hospital where the injured were being treated said that the rescue operations had started with “minimum lapse of time,” adding “we have been able to save most of the injured persons.”

The DM said the frequency of the bus services had been increased and the passengers who wanted to reach their destinations by bus were being helped to do so.

About a dozen buses of North Bengal State Transport Corporation were immediately deployed its chairperson said adding that additional bus services would be started to.

Meanwhile, Bengal Chief Minister who flew off to Siliguri by a late noon flight blamed the Centre for neglecting the passengers’ safety in its bid to earn money and publicity.

“Today there has been a big accident like it has been happening in regular intervals … and the Government is sleeping … today I hear many people have died … I am told that their corpses are being kept aside and will be cremated silently to show lesser number of casualties … I am rushing to the area to see things for myself,” Banerjee said adding as the Railway Minister she had made plans for introducing safety devices on trains in collaboration with the Concon Railways “but I don’t know what has happened to that project … they are only giving different names to these projects for publicity but failing to stop accidents.” She was apparently referring to installation of Kabach device in the trains.

The CEO of the Indian Railways however said in the morning that Kabach was yet to be fitted with trains running through Bengal.

“The entire Indian Railways is in shambles … They have discontinued the Railway Budget and the ministry is hardly visible … today we can get information about Railways only when there is an inauguration and whenever there is some publicity work done,” Banerjee said.

Meanwhile, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav too had started for Siliguri reports last coming in said.

Helpline Numbers for Kolkata: 033-23508794, 033-23833326

Helpline Numbers for Guwahati: 03612731621, 03612731622, 03612731623

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