At least four passengers and the driver of a Bolero jeep were killed, while seven others sustained serious injuries when the Howrah-Gaya Express train rammed into it at an unmanned railway crossing at Safiganj locality, about 150 km south-east of Patna on Tuesday morning.
A thick blanket of fog had descended in the area where the accident happened in the last three days. The Bolero got entangled with the engine of the Gaya-bound train and was dragged for nearly 400 metres along the tracks.
Grieving family members of the deceased accused the Bolero driver of speeding and negligence while crossing the railway line. But some eyewitnesses said, the driver did not notice the oncoming train and that led to the accident.
Movement of many trains were suspended following the accident even as local villagers laid siege at the site demanding compensation to the next of the deceased, construction of a railway halt and installation of a level crossing gate.
The accident took place between Warsaliganj-Nawada rail sections falling under Danapur division when the Bolero jeep carrying members of a 'marriage-party' from Safiaganj village tried to cross the unmanned railway crossing at around 8:55am when the 13023 Howrah-Gaya Express was heading for Gaya.
Officials who visited the spot said there were 12 persons of Pakribarawan locality onboard the jeep, who were all thrown off by the impact. The toll may rise as many of the injured have been admitted in a critical condition in Nawada sadar hospital. They said, four of them were killed on the spot while another succumbed to his injury on way to sadar hospital.
Nawada district magistrate Lalan Ji, SP Parvez Akhtar and other officials reached the spot and tried to pacify the mob. CPRO of east central railway Arvind Kumar Rajak said it was an unauthorised crossing and there were no warning signs, which are otherwise present at authorized railway crossings, were present at the site.
Meanwhile, the state government has announced Rs 2.5 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the injured.
Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi expressed grief over the incident and directed the district administration to undertake rescue and relief works. He has also appealed to road users to be careful while passing through unmanned crossing.