3 killed as Bikaner-Guwahati Express train derails in Bengal, PM takes stock

Source: PTI | Published on 13th January 2022, 8:25 PM | National News |

Kolkata/ New Delhi/Guwahati: At least three people were killed and more than 20 injured when 12 coaches of the Bikaner-Guwahati Express train derailed and some overturned near Domohani in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district on Thursday, officials said.

The accident occurred around 5 p.m. in an area under Alipurduar division of Northeast Frontier Railway, an NFR spokesperson said in Guwahati, which is over 360 km from the scene of the tragedy.

Commissioner, Railway Safety, will conduct an inquiry into the cause of the accident, a railway official said in New Delhi. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Railway Board Chairman and Director General (Safety) are also leaving for the accident site, the official said.

“Three bodies were recovered from the accident site. So far, around 20 people have been admitted to hospital. The rescue operation is on at a war-footing,” Jalpaiguri District Magistrate Moumita Godara Basu said.

An NFR spokesperson said in Guwahati that a relief and rescue train carrying a medical team has reach the accident site.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in the middle of a meeting with chief ministers to review the COVID-19 situation, inquired West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee about the accident. Banerjee, who had spoken to the Jalpaiguri district magistrate, briefed the the prime minister about the relief and rescue operations.

TV footage showed several coaches lying sideways down the elevated track as rescue workers were seen trying to extricate the passengers.

According to railway officials, six coaches were severely impacted.

“We felt a sudden shock. We were all rocking violently and luggage kept on upper berths tumbled all around,” said a passenger.

A partially mangled coach got perched atop another under the impact, while a few bogies had hurtled down the slope and overturned.

Hundreds of people from nearby villages collected at the spot, and were seen lending a helping hand to passengers who had got trapped inside the collapsed coaches. Some of the bogies had got detached from the rest of the train under the impact, while wheels of some came off.

As the news of the accident reached Jalpaiguri, siren-blaring ambulances arrived at the spot and the injured were seen being evacuated.

“In an unfortunate accident, 12 coaches of Bikaner-Guwahati Exp. derailed near New Maynaguri (West Bengal) this evening. Personally monitoring the situation for swift rescue operations,” Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw tweeted.

“Spoke with Hon’ble PM and apprised him about the rescue operations,” he added.

The Indian Railways has announced Rs 5 Lakh ex-gratia for those killed, Rs 1 lakh for the severely injured and Rs 25,000 for passengers who suffered minor injures.

According to railway officials, since the accident occurred on the main line, all train movement towards Guwahati has been halted for the time being.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee spoke to district officials, and senior state government officials have rushed to the spot.

“Deeply concerned to hear about the tragic accident of the Bikaner-Guwahati Express in Maynaguri. Senior Officers of the State Government, DM/SP/IG North Bengal are supervising rescue and relief operations. Those injured will receive medical attention, as early as possible,” she tweeted.

“Sad to hear Bikaner Guwahati express derailed near Jalpaiguri with reports of death and casualties,” West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar tweeted, adding all agencies concerned were rendering full assistance in the rescue operations. 

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