At least 16 passengers, including three toddlers, were killed and more than 70 passengers injured as an intercity train hit another at Mandabhag Railway Crossing under Kasba upazila in Brahmanbaria on early Tuesday.
The accident occurred when the locomotive of Dhaka-bound Turna Express hit Chattogram-bound Udayan Express in the middle and three compartments of the latter derailed immediately, said Bangladesh Railway officials.
All the victims were passengers of the Udayan Express and of the injured the conditions of 13 were critical, according to doctors of the hospital treating them.
‘Sixteen people were killed and 75 others injured in the accident,’ Brahmanbaria deputy Commissioner Hayat-ud-Dowla Khan told New Age.
The train communications between Dhaka-Chattogram, Dhaka-Noakhali and Chattogram-Sylhet snapped for about eight hours following the incident while thousands of passengers suffered in stranded trains at different stations.
Five committees were formed to probe the incident while railway minister Nurul Islam Sujan said that they initially assumed that the accident took place due to a mistake by the locomaster of Turna Express, reported our Brahmanbaria correspondent.
Three railway employees – locomaster and assistant locmaster of the Turna Express and a guard – were temporarily suspended over the accident.
The president, the prime minister, the speaker, the deputy speaker, the chief whip and the railway ministry expressed condolences to the families of the victims.
At a meeting at her office prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday also stressed the need for making the railway staff better-prepared and alert in preventing train accidents, particularly during the winter, United News of Bangladesh reports.
National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh and other rights organisations demanded a neutral probe into the incident and punishment for the responsible people.
The deceased in the accident were identified as: Adiba, 2, of Habiganj, Sohamoni, 2, of Brahmanbaria, Mariom, 4, of Chandpur, Mujibur Rahman, 55, of Chandpur, Yasin, 12, of Habiganj, Sujan Ahmed, 24, of Habignaj, Zaheda Khatun, 30, of Moulvibazar, Kulsum Begum, 30, of Chandpur; Al Amin, 30, of Habiganj, Ali Md Yousuf, 32, of Habiganj, Farjana, 15, of Chandpur, Ripon Miah, 25, of Habiganj, Kakoli, 20, and Rabi Harijan, 23, of Noakhali, Farzana, 15, of Chandpur and Piara Begum, 32, of Chunarughat of Habiganj.
Mandabhag rail station master Zakir Hossain told New Age that a signal was given to the Turna Express on the Chattogram–Dhaka route at about 2:55am on Tuesday for halting on the main line in the outer signal area.
At the same time a signal was given to the Udayan Express on the Sylhet–Chattogram route to go to the line number 1 from the main line, he said.
When the last three compartments of the Udayan Express were entering the line number 1, the Turna Express violating the signal hit the last compartments, he continued.
Nine passengers died on the spot, six more at the Brahmanbaria sadar hospital, Kasba upazila hospital and Comilla Medical College Hospital.
Primarily 10 bodies were kept at Bayek Government Primary School, three at the Brahmanbaria Sadar Hospital, two at the Kasba Upazila Health Complex and one at Comilla Medical College Hospital.
The Brahmanbaria Deputy Commissioner told New Age that within evening they had handed over all of the bodies to their relatives.
According to the National Health Emergency Operation Centre control room, 62 people were injured in the incident and 41 of them were admitted to the Brahmanbaria sadar hospital.
Later three critically injured were referred to the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation and Dhaka Medical College Hospital and at least 10 of the injured were in critical condition at the Brahmanbaria sadar hospital till the evening.
The control room said that after the accident 13 were admitted to Cumilla Medical College Hospital out of whom 10 were referred to Dhaka, four were at Sylhet Osmani Medical College Hospital, two were at Akhaura Upazila Health Complex and another two were at Kasba Upazila Health Complex.
The New Age correspondent in Cumilla reported that one child died on the way to the Cumilla Medical College Hospital.
District Police Superintendent Syed Md Nurul Islam visited the injured at the hospital where he said the treatment cost of the injured would be borne by the district police.
Mandabhag rail station master Zakir Hossain said that three compartments of Udayan Express were badly damaged following the collision and derailed on the line.
The rail communications on Dhaka–Chattogram, Dhaka–Noakhali and Chattogram–Sylhet snapped immediately.
The New Age correspondent in Chattogram quoting railway’s east zone general manager Nasir Uddin Ahmed reported that two relief trains lifted the derailed compartments and after repairing the tracks the rail communications resumed at 10:25am.
Chattogram Railway Station Manager Abul Kalam Azad said that the travel schedules of Suborno Express on Chattogram–Dhaka, Paharika Express on Chattogram–Sylhet, Mohanagar Godhuli on Chattogram–Dhaka, Mohanagar Express, Meghna Express and Sonar Bangla Express were delayed by hours following the accident.
The railway minister visited the spot at about 10:00am when the ministry’s secretary Md Mofazzel Hossain and railway director general Md Shamsuzzaman were present.
On the day the railway suspended Turna Express’s locomaster Taser Uddin, assistant locomaster Apu Dey and working guard Abdur Rahman.
The railway ministry formed a four-member committee which is scheduled to submit its report by next five working days and under the ministry the government railway inspector would also submit a report after probing the incident, said railway officials.
The Bangladesh Railway formed a four-member committee comprising divisional heads and a five-member committee consisting of divisional officials.
The deputy commissioner of Brahmanbaria also formed a probe committee which would submit its report within next 24 hours.
In a press release the railway minister announced to give Tk one lakh to the family of each dead victim and Tk 10,000 to the family of each injured victim.
The Brahmanbaria Deputy Commissioner told this daily that Tk 25,000 had been given to each of the deceased’s families.
President Abdul Hamid and prime minister Sheikh Hasina expressed condolence in two different statements on the day.
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, deputy speaker Md Fazle Rabbi Miah, chief whip Noor-e-Alam Chowdhury and the railway minister expressed condolence to the families of the people who were killed and injured in the accident.
In a press release National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh chairman Nasima Begum said that an investigation into the incident was necessary and the responsible persons should be brought to book.
The commission sent a letter to the railway ministry for informing them about the actions.
The Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh demanded free treatment of the injured victims and necessary actions against the responsible people in a press release.
The Road Safety Foundation in a press release demanded financial assistance for all victims and free treatment for the injured in the mishap.
In another press release the Jago Bangladesh Passenger Welfare Council demanded a proper investigation and compensation for the victims of the accident.
Currently the railway is struggling as 35 per cent of its sanctioned posts of locomotive masters are lying vacant while many of the on-roll locomasters are less trained than required and overworked.
Between the 1998-99 and 2017-18 fiscal years a total of 329 people were killed and 1,496 injured in a total of 2,786 train accidents.
Earlier on September 11, 2017, the rail communications between Dhaka and the eastern zone of the country were disrupted temporarily following derailment of two compartments and the locomotive of the Dhaka-bound Turna Express near the Brahmanbaria railway station.
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