NATIONAL RAIL DISASTER: West Bengal train accident toll rises to 62 – sabotage or neglect, problems Mamata could do well without ?!!
From MSN News
Updated on 20 July 2010, 06:15 IST
Sainthia (West Bengal), 19 July 2010: The toll in Monday’s train accident at Sainthia in West Bengal’s Birbhum district has shot up to 62, railway sources said.
The 62 victims include 59 passengers and three railway employees, an Eastern Railway release said here.
Over 150 people have been injured.
The accident occurred when the speeding Sealdah-bound Uttar Banga Express rammed into the stationary Bhagalpur-Ranchi Vananchal Express from the rear at Sainthia station.
The engine of the Uttar Banga Express ploughed through three coaches – one luggage van and two unreserved general second class coaches – of the stationary train.
The three railway employees who died are driver M.C. Dey, assistant driver N.K. Mandal of the Uttar Banga Express and the guard of the Vananchal Express A. Mukherjee.
Soon after the accident, theories of sabotage flew around. There were reports that the signalling system was tampered, forcing the speeding Vananchal Express on to track 1 where the Uttarbanga Express was made to halt. As a result the Vananchal Express which was at full speed, rammed into the Uttarbanga Express.
Meanwhile, after more than 50 people died and scores of other were injured in a collision between trains (New Coochbehar-Sealdah Uttarbanga Express and the stationary Bhagalpur-Ranchi Vananchal Express at Sainthia station in Birbhum) Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee hinted indirectly at the possibility of sabotage.
She said that the authorities are going into every aspect of the accident. She says there is “doubt” in her mind about the circumstances of the accident which raises prospects of foul play and that this may be more than just a mere accident.
Banerjee, chairman of Railway Board Vivek Sahay, Railway Board member (electrical) Sudesh Kumar and director general of railway health service B K Ramteke, Eastern Railway general manager V N Tripathy and some other senior officials are on way to Sainthia.
The accident site is about 191 km from Kolkata.
” Over 50 people were killed and over 70 injured after the stationary Bhagalpur-Ranchi Vananchal Express was hit from behind by the speeding Sealdah-bound Uttarbanga Express at Sainthia station in West Bengal early on Monday.
Birbhum District Magistrate Soumitra Mohan confirmed the death of over 40 people in the accident that occurred 191 km from Howrah on the Bolpur-Rampurhat section of Eastern Railway’s Howrah division at around 2.15 a.m. More deaths are likely as many bodies have yet to be recovered.
“We have recovered 32 bodies so far. More than 70 injured passengers from the Vanachal Express have been rescued,” Mohan said.
However, Chief Security Commissioner of Eastern Railway S. Sahoo told IANS: “We fear more than 50 have died.”
The dead includes the driver and assistant driver of the Uttarbanga Express and the guard of the Vananchal Express.
An Eastern Railway spokesman said the Vananchal Express was standing at platform 4 when the speeding Uttarbanga Express, coming from New Coochbehar, hit it from the rear. Three rear coaches of the Vananchal Express bore the brunt of the collision and were badly mangled. Such was the impact of the collision that one of the coaches went up to the overbridge.
The authorities were using gas-cutters to cut open the coaches and bring out the dead and rescue the injured.
Eye-witnesses said the Vananchal Express was about to leave the station when the accident occurred.
Sainthia Government Railway Police (GRP) sources said the injured passengers were being sent to hospitals in Sainthia and Birbhum district headquarters Suri.
Train movement on the down line has been disrupted in the Bolpur-Rampurhat section. The down Malda-Howrah Intercity Express has been cancelled and many trains were stranded on the down line.
Union Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee is slated to go to the spot later in the day. Eastern Railway General Manager V.N. Tripathy has left for the spot in a special train. An accident relief train and a medical relief train have also reached Sainthia. Rescue operation teams have reached Sainthia from Rampurhat, Asansol and Burdwan.
The Eastern Railway has opened two helplines (numbers 23503537 and 23503535) at Sealdah for news of the victims.
Helplines have also been opened at Howrah, Bhagalpur and Jamalpur atations.