At least eight dead in collision between passenger train and goods convoy in India

At least eight dead in collision between passenger train and goods convoy in India

Tangled wrecks of wagons overturned on their sides, one propelled skyward, resting precariously on top of another. MAXPPP – Dipa Chakraborty/Eyepix Group/Avalon

At least eight people were killed this Monday, June 17, 2024 in India when the driver of a goods convoy ignored a signal and hit a passenger train from behind in the state of West Bengal (east), police and railway authorities announced.

Around fifty people were injured and taken to hospital, said Jaya Varma Sinha, chairman of the Indian Railways Board, in a statement specifying that the goods convoy "ignored the signal and hit the train from behind".

Among the dead are the driver and his second who did not respect the signal, as well as a barrier guard and five passengers, added Ms. Sinha.

The chairman of the Indian Railways Board also said that the human toll could have been higher because some of the last carriages of the train, hit most violently by the goods convoy, were carrying equipment and not passengers.

Images broadcast by Indian media show tangled wrecks of wagons overturned on their sides, one of them propelled skyward, resting precariously on top of another.

A local police officer, Iftikar-Ul-Hassan, told AFP that he had seen several seriously injured people pulled from the rubble. "The toll could rise further because four people were admitted (to hospital) in serious condition", he said.

He added that the "lanes are being cleared" and the rescue teams are working at "return the line to service". Darjeeling district police chief Praween Prakash told AFP that rescue operations had been completed.

"We are now working on clearing the debris", he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences to 'those who lost their loved ones' in a social media post, adding that 'relief operations are in progress".

The chief minister of this state located in eastern India, Mamata Banerjee, described the accident as "tragic&quot ; in a message published on social networks.

Highest railway bridge in the world

"Doctors, ambulances and rescue teams were dispatched to the scene", Ms. Banerjee wrote on social media, calling the accident "tragic" but without providing an assessment.

The accident occurred at Phansidewa in Darjeeling district when the Kanchenjunga Express train was hit by a goods train. Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the "injured are being shifted to the hospital".

India, which has one of the largest railway networks in the world, has seen a large number of deadly train accidents in its history.

The safety of this network, used every day by millions of passengers, has however improved in recent years thanks to investments to modernize it by equipping it with modern stations and electronic signaling systems.

The deadliest accident in the history of the country remains that of June 6, 1981 when, in the state of Bihar (east), seven wagons of  rsquo;a train crossing a bridge fell into the Bagmati River, killing between 800 and 1,000 people.

In June last year, nearly 300 people died in a collision between three trains in the eastern state of Odisha.

On Sunday, a train crossed the world's highest railway bridge for the first time – 359 meters above a river – in a Himalayan region of India, announced the Minister of Railways.

This metal structure, which spans the Chenab River, connects parts of northern Jammu and Kashmir state, a Muslim-majority territory administered by India, to the rest of the country.

Work on this railway has been in progress for almost 30 years and the official opening of this connection is planned in the coming weeks.

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