Sainthia: At least 50 people are feared dead and several others injured when Sealdah-bound Uttarbanga Express from New Coochbehar rammed into the rear of the Bhagalpur-Ranchi Vananchal Express at Sainthia station in Birbhum district early today.
15 bodies have been recovered, but a senior official said, on the condition of anonymity, that at least 50 people could have died. More than 150 have been injured. Rescue work is still on.
Heavy casualty was feared as three coaches, two unreserved and a luggage (SLR) van, of Ranchi-bound Vananchal Express turned into a mangled heap of steel due to the impact.
Sources in Suri hospital said that 15 bodies were brought to the hospital. Some injured were also taken to Sainthia hospital, but the number of dead brought there was not yet known.
Injured passengers were being taken to hospitals in Sainthia, and Suri, the district headquarter town.
The diesel engine of Uttarbanga Express was badly smashed. Eastern Railway sources in Kolkata have confirmed that the driver of the Uttarbanga Express, M C Dey, had died but there were no reports about the fate of assistant driver N K Mandal. The guard of the Vananchal Express, A Mukherjee, had also died in the accident.
The severity of the impact could be gauged with the fact that the roof of one of the coaches of the ill-fated train mounted the footover bridge across the platform.
According to sources, the accident occurred at 1.54 am when 3148 down New Coochbehar-Sealdah Uttarbanga Express rammed into 3404 down Bhagalpur-Ranchi Vananchal Express after overshooting the signal.
Vananchal was several hours behind the scheduled time of 20.54 pm and was leaving platform No. 4 at the time of accident.
The scheduled arrival and departure of Uttarbanga Express at Sainthia was 1.38 am and 1.39 am. It was not clear why the train, which was to halt at the station, arrived on a high speed.
The sources said the up line was clear and no train on that route has yet been cancelled.
Eastern Railway has opened control rooms following the accident. The stations and their phone numbers are Sealdah (033-23503535, 033-23503537), Malda (06436-222061), Bhagalpur (06412-4222433), Jamalpur (063444-3101)
Railway Minister Mamata 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 other senior officials have left for Sainthia.
Relief trains from Rampurhat, Asansol and Burdwan have left for the accident spot, about 191 km from Kolkata.
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