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40 bodies identified, severed limbs found at accident site

Bodies of 40 of the 63 passengers who died in Monday's ghastly train accident in West Bengal's Birbhum district have been identified while rescue workers continued to stumble upon severed limbs and body parts of victims today at the accident site.

india Updated: Jul 20, 2010 21:34 IST

Bodies of 40 of the 63 passengers who died in Monday's ghastly train accident in West Bengal's Birbhum district have been identified while rescue workers continued to stumble upon severed limbs and body parts of victims today at the accident site.

"Forty of the bodies of the victims have been identified and handed over to the relatives. The remaining 23 bodies have been sent to the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital as it has better facilities for preservation," Birbhum district police superintendent Humayun Kabir told IANS over phone.

The state government ordered the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the state police to conduct a probe into the tragedy, which has left more than 100 people still lying injured in different hospitals. As many as 34 of the seriously injured were shifted to Burdwan Medical College and Hospital and six others to hospitals in Kolkata, about 190 km from here.

Railwaymen worked overtime to repair the damaged footbridge where one of the coaches of the Vananchal Express had been thrown up after being slammed from the rear by the speeding Uttar Banga Express early Monday.

Train services returned to normal on the down line as workers cleaned up the splintered scraps of the two trains lying on the track.

Severed limbs and body parts of the victims were found from the accident spot Tuesday morning, as a large number of onlookers crowded the area. Bags and other belongings of the passengers were also seen lying besides the railway line.

In Kolkata, state Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh said the CID has been asked to probe the accident that occurred when the engine of the Uttar Banga Express ploughed through the three compartments of the stationary Vananchal Express at the Sainthia station in the dead of the night.

The railways have already ordered an inquiry on how two trains could come on to the same down line at the station in the Bolpur-Rampurhat section of Eastern Railway's Howrah division.

Official negligence is seen as the main reason for the accident, the second train disaster in West Bengal in two months which have claimed over 200 lives.

The Commissioner of Railway Safety (Eastern Zone) R.S. Yadav is also conducting a probe.

Among the dead were 60 passengers and three railway employees, Uttar Banga Express' driver Madhab Chandra Dey and assistant driver Nirmal Mandal and the Vananchal Express' guard A. Mukherjee.

With the Railway Board chairman Vivek Sahai finding fault with Dey and Mandal for the tragedy, their family members were shocked. Dey's three daughters, now in mourning, demanded a high level enquiry into the accident to unearth the truth and criticised the railway board chairman for blaming their father for the accident.

"We want a high level enquiry into the accident. My father was not only a good driver but also a good human being. My father cannot be so negligent while driving. These are all rubbish claims that my father was sleeping while driving the train," said Moonmoon, one of his daughters.

At Suri hospital, many of the relatives of the dead and the injured complained of harassment in making arrangements for treatment of their relatives or even in knowing their fate.

Dhina Mirdha, an illiterate seasonal labourer from Jharkhand, has been running from pillar to post to know whether his wife and minor daughter - travelling in the Vananchal Express - are dead or fighting for their life in the hospital.

"Please let me know what happened to my wife and daughter. Are they alive or dead? Some locals tell me that the body of a young girl had been taken out from the Vananchal Express. Was that my daughter?" he asked, weeping inconsolably, as railways officials stood helpless.

Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, during whose 14-month charge over 425 people have died in railway accidents in the country, continued to face flak from the public.

Many blamed her neglect of the ministry, while concentrating on the politics of her home state of West Bengal with an aim to grab power there from the Communists, for the mismanagement of the railway system which runs over 18,500 trains and ferries 19 million passengers every day.

The Sainthia accident is the second railway disaster in the state in less than two months.

On May 28, altogether 148 railway passengers and employees died when Maoist guerrillas cut open the pandrol clips, used to fix the rail to the sleeper, near Jhargram in West Midnapore district derailing the Gyaneshwari Express.

After the Mumbai-bound train derailed, a freight train approaching from the opposite direction rammed into five of its coaches, resulting in the high casualties.

First Published: Jul 20, 2010 21:27 IST