Bengal rail accident: Death toll rises to eight

IANS Photo

Kolkata, June 17 (IANS) The death toll in the Kanchanjungha Express-goods train collision has risen to eight, said officials on Monday.

According to the Additional Superintendent of Police, Darjeeling district, Abhishek Roy, the dead include the loco pilot of the goods train that had hit the Kanchanjungha Express.

Roy did not rule out the possibility of the death figure increasing as the rescue operations continued. So far the number of injured was over 30, he said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee decided to rush to the spot of the accident and personally supervise the rescue operations there.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a post on X said that Railways Minister Ashiwni Vaishnaw was on the way to the accident spot.

As the number of injured persons getting admitted to the hospitals in north Bengal started increasing, the state health department has enquired about the amount of blood in reserve there. The leaves of all medical staff and those associated with the emergency departments have been cancelled for an indefinite period.

Meanwhile, the North Bengal State Corporate Corporation (NBSTC) had decided to run special buses between Siliguri and Kolkata to help the other passengers travelling by the ill-fated train to Kolkata.

Following the accident at the spot, which is the principal railway connectivity route between West Bengal and northeast India, the Railways have diverted the routes of several long-distance trains, including Rajdhani Express and Vande Bharat Express. The Northeast Frontier Railways have announced several helpline numbers on this count.

Bengal rail accident: PM Modi speaks to officials; Railway Minister to reach site

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to the Railways officials and taken stock of the situation after the Sealdah-bound Kanchanjunga Express was hit by a goods train in West Bengal on Monday.

At least five people died in the accident and over 30 were injured, said officials.

The Prime Minister has asked the Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to reach the site.

In a post on X, PM Modi said, "The railway accident in West Bengal is saddening. Condolences to those who lost their loved ones. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest. Spoke to officials and took stock of the situation. Rescue operations are underway to assist the affected. The Railways Minister Shri@AshwiniVaishnaw Ji is on the way to the site of the mishap as well."

Different teams attached to the state government and the Indian Railways started rescue operations at the site between New Jalpaiguri and Rangapani station.

To make things more difficult, the rescue operations are being impacted by rain in the region.

The rescue teams are adopting the manual process of bringing the affected compartments back into position to locate more trapped passengers.

“We are avoiding the use of gas cutters right now as we fear that more people might be trapped inside the affected compartments. The use of gas cutters might endanger their lives. Since we are still adopting the manual process, the rescue process is slow. Rainfall is adding further difficulty,” said an official of the state Disaster Management Department, present at the spot.

The injured persons have been rushed to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital at Siliguri.

Some of the passengers travelling by Kanchanjungha Express said that contrary to information that there was just one collision, they heard the sound of at least three to four collisions.