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60 dead in WB train mishap; 157 INJURED; 37 IN CRITICAL CONDITION
Published on 20 Jul. 2010 12:32 AM IST
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A speeding express train ploughed through a train standing at a station in West Bengal’s Birbhum district early Monday, killing at least 61 people and injuring more than 150. It was the second train disaster in the Communist-ruled state in less than two months that have taken a toll of over 200 lives.
The Sealdah-bound Uttar Banga Express slammed into three coaches, one luggage van and two unreserved second class coaches, of the stationary Bhagalpur-Ranchi Vananchal Express at Sainthia station in Birbhum, about 190 km from Kolkata, at about 2.15 a.m., railway authorities said.
All three coaches were badly mangled by the severity of the collision with one of the coaches shooting from the tracks and almost mounting the footbridge above.
Gas cutters were used to cut open the coaches and bring out the dead and rescue the injured.
“Many of the bodies got pasted in the coaches. In some cases, we only managed to extricate body parts, rather than whole bodies,” said a rescue worker.
While the army was called in to help, locals were the first to rush to help as cries of the injured passengers, many of whom had lost their limbs, cut through the dark night.
Said a woman, who was travelling with her child and was jolted out of sleep: “I saw there were many injured people in the coach ahead of ours. Many had lost their upper or lower limbs. Some others had lost the upper parts of the body.”
Among the dead were 58 passengers and three employees of the India Railways that runs 10,000 passengers trains a day that ferries 1.8 million passengers, the largest under a single operator in the world. The toll was expected to go up with 37 of the 157 injured in a critical condition.
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.
The train, sources said, was running at 110 km per hour and had made an unscheduled stop at Gadadharpur station just nine kilometres away. Why, they asked, was the train going at such high speeds minutes before the scheduled Sainthia stop.
Mamata suspicious

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday visited site of the accident involving Sealdah-bound Uttar Banga Express and Vananchal Express at Sainthia station in Birbhum district.
Speaking to reporters at the site, the minister announced compensation of Rs.5 lakh to the kin of those killed and a job. The state government said it would give Rs.3 lakh each. Banerjee also announced compensation of Rs.1 lakh for the grievously injured and Rs.25,000 for those who sustained minor injuries while the West Bengal government promised to bear all the expenses.
An inquiry headed by the Commissioner, Railway Safety has been ordered into the incident, the PRO of the Railways Ministry had earlier said.
Speaking before leaving for Sainthia, Mamata had said she was “suspicious” about the cause of the accident.
“I am suspicious about the cause of the accident,” Banerjee told reporters here when asked about the circumstances that led to the mishap.
“We have some doubt in our mind. Whatever happened is not casual thing. We will take strong steps against those who are behind this,” she said before proceeding for the accident site.
She, however, did not elaborate. Meanwhile, both Ram Vilas Paswan and Lalu Prasad Yadav attacked the Trinamool Congress chief for the accident. “Mamata Banerjee should either look after the Railways or Bengal politics,” said LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan. “This accident has happened due to carelessness,” added RJD President Lalu Yadav.
The incident comes within two months of the Gyaneshwari train disaster near Jhargram that left 148 dead.

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