63 dead in Bengal train collision
Sainthia (WB), July 19
The accident occurred around 2 am when the New Coochbehar-Sealdah Uttarbanga Express came on the same track and rammed into the Bhagalpur-Ranchi Vananchal Express which was just pulling out of platform number four after having suffered a delay of four to five hours.
Three rear coaches, including one luggage van and two unreserved general second class coaches of the Vananchal Express, were heavily damaged in the accident in the Bolpur-Rampurhat section of the Howrah division, Eastern Railway officials said.
Birbhum District Magistrate Soumitra Mohan said 63 passengers died and of the injured, the condition of 36 was serious. The injured have been admitted to Burdwan Medical College and Hospital.
Driver M C Dey, a seasoned 'A' category loco pilot with a good safety record, and assistant driver N K Mandal of the Uttarbanga Express were among the dead in the accident for which the Railways was not ruling out sabotage.
Guard of the Vananchal Express A Mukherjee also died in the mishap which was so severe that one of the coaches mounted the road overbridge across the tracks in the station, 191 km from Kolkata.
A part of another compartment of the Vananchal Express split and fell on the road along the tracks after being thrown over the bridge.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said: "We have doubts about the cause of the accident, the second in West Bengal in two months." Railway Board chairman Vivek Sahai, who visited the accident site, told reporters that it was unusual on the part of the drivers who neither applied emergency brake, nor made any attempt to stop the train to avoid the accident.
Sahai described the accident as "very unusual. There was something wrong with loco pilots. The brakes were not applied at all nor the emergency brakes though the train was running at a high speed. They (driver and co-driver) were not even trying to jump out and were found occupying their seats," he said.
Not ruling out sabotage, Eastern Railway general manager V N Tripathi said, "What caused this, we will have to find out. The driver was a very good driver and we are also puzzled. — PTI