At least four people, including two students, were killed and around 100 more injured following derailment of five compartments of a Dhaka-bound passenger train when approaching Barochhara Bridge at Boromchal railway station area under Kulaura upazila in Moulvibazar on Sunday night.
One of the compartments fell into the canal beneath the bridge while the derailment left some of the sleepers and railing of the bridge damaged.
The deceased were identified as Monowara Parveen, 45, wife of Abdul Bari of TTDC area of Kulaura Municipality of Moulvibazar district, Fahmida Yasmin Iva, 20, daughter of Abdul Bari of village Abdullahpur of Moglabazar of Sylhet district, Sanjida Akhter, 20, daughter of Akram Mollah of Vanderkhola village of Mollarhat PS of Bagerhat district and Md Kawsar Ahmed, 26, son of Late Noor Husen of village Dhormondol of Nasirnagor upazila of Brahmanbaria district.
Fahmida and Sanjida were students of the nursing institute in Sylhet MAG Medical College Hospital.
Rail communication between Sylhet and the rest of the country remained suspended for at least 18 hours before it resumed at 6:00pm on Monday, the railways minister Nurul Islam Sujan said in the parliament.
The railways minister further said that it was not true that the bridge collapsed. Instead, the compartments were derailed when the train was approaching the bridge, he added.
The passengers alleged that the train was overcrowded as repair work on a bailey bridge at Shahbazpur area in Sarail under Brahmanbaria halted the movement of vehicles on the Dhaka-Sylhet national highway for the last few days.
After the weekly cabinet meeting on Monday, cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told at a briefing at the secretariat that the Upaban Express derailed on a bridge in Moulvibazar on Sylhet-Dhaka route as it was overcrowded following disruption in road communication.
Railways authorities formed two separate committees to probe the incident and submit reports within three days.
One of the four-member committees is headed by Bangladesh Railway’s chief mechanical engineer (east) Md Mizanur Rahman and another five-member committee is headed by Dhaka divisional transport officer Md Mainul Islam.
Two trains on Dhaka-Sylhet routes were cancelled on the day.
Passengers, both on railways and roads, suffered immensely throughout the day due to disruption in communications.
New Age correspondent in Moulvibazar reported that the Upaban Express with 17 coaches caught in the accident on Sunday night around 11:45pm.
Moulvibazar civil surgeon Shahjahan Kabir Chowdhury said that there were four bodies at the government facility and they treated 58 injured people.
Among the injured 20 were sent to Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital in critical condition and seven were admitted to the Moulvibazar 250 Bed Hospital, he added.
Officer in charge of Kulaura railway police station, Md Abdul Malek, said that they counted a total of 65 injured people following the accident.
Locals said some people with minor injuries left the local hospitals and clinics after receiving primary treatments.
Moulvibazar superintendent of police Mohammad Shahjalal said police, RAB, BGB, and 13 units of Fire Service and Civil Defence launched a rescue operation immediately after the accident.
Passengers alleged that the accident occurred due to overcrowding of the train.
Railways ministry secretary Md Mofazzel Hossain told New Age that the last compartment of the train fell into the canal and three other compartments veered off the track and fell on the ground after getting past the bridge.
While visiting the spot he said that, ‘We knew of the communication disruption on roads and that is why we added extra coaches to the trains on this route.’
He also said that the investigation committees would identify the reasons behind the accident which could be over speed, faults in tracks or in the wheels of the compartments.
Trains on Dhaka-Sylhet route ran till Kulaura after the accident while railway cancelled two trains — Joyantika Express and Kalni Express — on the route on Monday.
On Monday afternoon many passengers were seen at Kamalapur station getting refunded after they returned their tickets while some agitated passengers wanted to know why the authorities concerned failed to resume the rail communication as the accident took place at night.
‘How I will go to see my sick mother,’ asked Deepu, a passenger of Joyantika Express, as he felt it was not possible to take his family by road as the condition of the roads was dreadful.
On the day, the bailey bridge at Shahbazpur area on the Dhaka-Sylhet national highway was opened for movement of vehicles though the heavy vehicles.
As a result no buses and trucks could cross the bridge which created a huge traffic gridlock that continued for hours on end.
In a press release the railways minister said that families of the victims who died would be compensated by the ministry.
Bangladesh National Awami Party and Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh in separate press releases condemned the incident and demanded punishment of the responsible people.
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