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Fifteen killed in India train collision


By Meryl SebastianBBC News, Kochi

Getty Images People look on at the site of a collision between an express passenger train and a goods train in Nirmaljote, near Rangapani station in India's West Bangal state on June 17, 2024Getty Images

The accident took place in West Bengal’s New Jalpaiguri area on Monday morning

Eight people have died and around 60 have been injured in a train crash in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal.

The accident occurred when a goods train hit a stationary passenger train, the Kanchenjungha Express, in the New Jalpaiguri area on Monday morning.

Dramatic visuals from the accident site showed one wagon of the express train suspended in the air.

Authorities say “human error” may have led to the crash and a detailed investigation will be held.

Officials said ambulances and disaster teams were sent to the site for rescue efforts soon after the accident at 08:55 local time (03:25 GMT).

State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed shock at the accident and said action was being taken on “war footing”.

The dead include the driver and the assistant driver of the goods train and the guard of Kanchenjungha Express.

“Rescue operations have been completed,” Jaya Varma Sinha, CEO of the Railway Board, told a press conference.

The injured, she said, were being treated at a medical college in Siliguri city. “Our first priority is for them to get the best medical aid possible.”

Railway official Sabyasachi De told reporters that “the preliminary information we have is that the Kanchenjungha Express was hit from the rear by a goods train”. He added that the reason for the crash would only be confirmed after investigation.

Ms Sinha said human error seemed to be the likely cause of the accident. “As per initial investigation, it seems that the driver of the goods train disregarded the signal.”

She added that Kavach, an automatic train protection system developed by the Indian Railways, needed to be planned and expanded for West Bengal state.

ANI A wagon of the Kanchenjungha Express seen suspended in air after a goods train rammed into itANI

A wagon of the Kanchenjungha Express was suspended in the air after a goods train rammed into it

A police official told reporters that the engine of the goods train was damaged while three coaches of the express train were derailed.

A rescue official told the Times of India they avoided using gas cutters during the relief efforts because it could endanger the lives of those trapped in the train.

He said relief efforts were also slowed by heavy rain in the area.

Federal Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said relief teams had worked in close coordination with railway officials to carry out rescue operations.

The minister said he was travelling to the accident site.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the incident “saddening” and said he had spoken to officials about the rescue efforts.

“Condolences to those who lost their loved ones. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest,” he wrote on X.

He announced a compensation of 200,000 rupees ($2,394, £1,890) for the families of the dead and 50,000 rupees for each of the injured passengers.

The railways have set up a control desk with a helpline number at Rangapani station, near which the collision took place.

Last year, a devastating crash involving three trains in the eastern state of Odisha had killed around 290 people and left more than 1,000 injured.



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