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9 dead as bus falls on rail tracks
Published on 4 Jul. 2009 11:33 PM IST
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Nine people were killed Saturday when a speeding mini bus skidded off a bridge turned slippery by rain water and fell about 50 feet between two platforms of the Howrah railway station near this West Bengal capital. At least 11 people were also injured in the ghastly disaster that onlookers said took place when two passenger buses were trying to outrace each other just before 4 p.m. Suddenly the driver of one of them lost control of his vehicle, which crashed through the concrete barriers of the bridge and plunged down, between platforms 11 and 12 of the perennially busy Howrah station, the gateway to Kolkata. As wounded and stunned passengers screamed in pain, hundreds of people in the vicinity rushed to their rescue, frantically pulling out the victims from inside the badly mangled bus. Even before official help arrived, many of the wounded were taken away to hospitals on hand carts used by porters. Others were simply carried on hands. Rescuers and railway officials joined them, using gas cutters to rip apart the bus exterior and to take out the wounded. A police officer said nine people were killed in the accident. Eight of them were brought dead to the Howrah general hospital. The Bankim Setu on which the accident occurred connects Howrah town to the landmark Howrah bridge. The Trinamool Congress alleged that the Left Front government in West Bengal was to blame for the poor quality barriers on the bridge. Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool chief, demanded compensation for the family member of the victims. “It is a very unfortunate incident and we are shocked. I hope the state government will give compensation to the family members of the victims,” Banerjee told reporters near the accident spot. Rail operations came to an immediate halt on several platforms but local trains continued to ply normally, Eastern Railway’s chief public relations officer Samir Goswami said. “Operations on those platforms were stopped because we cut the electricity supply following the accident,” Goswami added. A number of long distance trains were also held up at the station, the biggest in eastern India. Howrah Superintendent of Police N.K. Singh said police would be able to confirm the cause of the accident only after an investigation.

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