Runaway train rams another in West Bengal, 61 dead | india | Hindustan Times
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Runaway train rams another in West Bengal, 61 dead

india Updated: Jul 20, 2010 01:30 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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There were frantic announcements on the public address system at Sainthia station, in West Bengal's Birbhum district at around 2 am on Monday.

"The announcer was telling people on Platform Number 4 to get out," said Sabyasachi Mukherjee, a Class XII student who was on the platform.

"There was a train standing on the track and the announcer kept exhorting people in it to leave as well."

Not many heard. At that hour, most passengers in the stationary train - the Vananchal Express travelling from Bhagalpur to Ranchi - were asleep.

The reason for the announcements became clear minutes later. The Kolkata-bound Uttarbanga Express from Coochbehar came rushing in at 90 km an hour - unable or unwilling to stop - and rammed the Vananchal, hitting it so hard that one whole bogie was flung into the air, landing on a footbridge overhead.

At least 61 people were killed and more than 150 injured in the second horrific accident in West Bengal in less than two months. On May 28, 148 people were killed after the Jnaneshwari Express derailed. The derailment was caused after Maoists allegedly removed a section of the track.

"There will be a high-level enquiry into why the train was rushing at such a high speed," Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee told mediapersons.

Railway Board Chairman Vivek Sahay ruled out any mechanical failure. He said both the driver of the Uttarbanga Express and his assistant had died in the crash.

Despite the early hour, local villagers jumped in to rescue those trapped in the coaches.

Monday's accident emphasized the need of anti-collision devices (ACD) on all the 19,000 trains that Indian Railways ply across the country every day.

Railway officials said the ACD, designed and developed by former Konkan Railway managing director B Rajaram, has a success rate of 99.9 per cent in preventing collisions.

"Its implementation is being delayed by successive revision of norms by the Railway Board even though the technology met the conditions successfully," Rajaram said.