Kanchanjunga rail mishap: 10 killed, 50 injured in West Bengal

Kolkata: At least 10 people died while 50 others were injured after a goods freight container train allegedly overshot a signal and rammed into the Sealdah-bound Kanchenjunga Express on the same track at Darjeeling in West Bengal on Monday.

The accident took place at around 8.55 am at Phansidewa between Rangapani and Chatterhat stations under Katihar division of the Northeast Frontier Railway, 10 km away from New Jalpaiguri station at Siliguri in North Bengal.

The impact of the collision was so heavy that the last four coaches of the passenger train, which was apparently stationary, and five container wagons of the goods train were derailed, blocking movements of other trains on the up and down tracks.

The affected coaches of Kanchenjunga Express, which was coming from Agartala, were two parcel vans, a guard's compartment and a passenger compartment. The NDRF, SDRF, RPF and state police personnel began rescue operations with medical teams.

They took out the bodies from the damaged coaches and rescued the injured passengers. Several long-distance trains in the region were cancelled and diverted immediately.

The list of 10 deceased included two railway staffers — who were the driver of the goods train and a parcel van staffer of Kanchenjunga Express. Most of the injured have been admitted to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.

After 1 pm, the Kanchanjunga Express left the spot with the unaffected coaches for Malda Town. The Commissioner of Railway Safety has started a high level probe.

It has also come to light that the automatic signals were not functioning from 5.50 am of the day between Ranipatra and Chatterhat, for which the driver of the Kanchenjunga Express was issued a paper memo, advising him to go slow and not to cross the speed limit of 15 km per hour.

Since the region has been witnessing rainfall, the maximum speed limit was reduced to 10 km per hour, according to sources. The passenger train passed through Rangapani at 8.27 am. The goods train left the same station at 8.42 am, sources revealed.

Mourning the loss of lives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on X: “Spoke to officials and took stock of the situation. Rescue operations are underway to assist the affected.”

Vaushnaw said enhanced ex gratia compensation will be provided to the victims; `10 lakh in case of death, `2.5 lakh towards grievous and `50,000 for minor injuries. West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rushed to North Bengal.

Lashing out at the Centre over frequent train accidents, Banerjee claimed that the railway ministry, which she had earlier headed twice, has become orphaned. She alleged: “I had introduced anti-collision device. The place where this accident happened is a black spot.”

She added: “Railway had a beauty. It has dropped passenger amenities now. Seats and toilets don’t get cleaned. Food quality has become bad also. The department is not there anymore. The Railway Budget has also been abolished. It has become parentless.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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