M A I N   N E W S

Aged bridge falls on train
33 DIE ‘Ulta Pul’ in Bhagalpur was being dismantled when it came down
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, December 2
At least 20 persons, including a two-year-old child and five women, were killed and over 19 injured in a freak accident at Bhagalpur today when an 150-year-old bridge fell on the sleeper class coach S8 of the 3071 UP Jamalpur-Howrah Superfast Express.

Against 20 death toll confirmed by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav till the filing of this report, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar put it at 33.

At least 20 more persons were reportedly feared trapped in the train and rescue operations were in full swing.

The BJP MP from Bhagalpur and former Union Minister Shahnawaz Hussain, who was at the spot, also put the death toll at 33 and feared it might increase late in the night.

Senior PRO of Eastern Railway Samir Goswami said Mr Lalu Prasad reached the spot by road around 5.30 pm.

The mishap occurred around 7.35 am when a portion of the bridge, known as “Ulta Pul”, abandoned for the past four years, collapsed over the coach, crushing half a portion of it.

Incidentally, the bridge was being dismantled by the Railways for the last three days.

Mr Lalu Prasad reached Bhagalpur late this evening as he was busy campaigning for the Congress candidate Hamid Mubarak from Manihari Assembly seat in Katihar for the assembly byelection there, scheduled for Monday. He was shown black flags.

The Railway Minister ordered an inquiry by Railway Safety Commissioner into the accident.

He suspended the Deputy Chief Engineer (Construction) and an Assistant Engineer of the Railways posted at Bhagalpur, who were supervising the dismantling of the overbridge.

The Railway Minister said a criminal case would be lodged against those found guilty of negligence.

He announced Rs1-lakh compensation to the kin of each victim and job to one member of the family of the victim. Mr Nitish Kumar, however, charged the current railway management with “carelessness” for the accident.

He said, ”The incident occurred due to complete carelessness on the part of the Railways. The Railway Department should institute an inquiry into it.”

Mr Shahanawaz Hussain demanded criminal proceedings against the Railways for what he called “cold-blooded murder” of passengers due to the negligence of the management.

Mr Samir Goswami told The Tribune that none of the passengers in Coach S8 had reserved their seats. “All were unreserved passengers as we do not have any reservation list with us”, he added.

Meanwhile, while some seriously injured passengers were taken to the Bhagalpur Hospital, those with minor injuries were being treated at the spot.

District Magistrate of Bhagalpur Vipin Kumar and Superintendent of Police J.S. Gangwar were supervising the rescue operations.

Bhagalpur falls under Eastern Railway. The General Manager, Eastern Railway, and DRM, Malda, also reached the spot.

New Delhi: The Centre rushed a chopper to Jharkhand for evacuation of policemen injured in a powerful landmine blast in Bokaro district and despatched a team of National Security Guards to examine the blast site.

Sources in the Union Home Ministry said the Director-General of the CRPF had been asked to give all help to the state government.

Union Home Secretary V K Duggal spoke to the state Director-General of Police and offered him assistance in dealing with the situation. — PTI



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |