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Shockwaves after track terror

Siliguri, Nov. 20: Forty-five-year-old Narayan Dey is still in shock. Though he has escaped death by a whisker, his friend was not so lucky.

Both Dey and Gopal Das (42) were on the ill-fated coach (number GS 8321) of the Haldibari-NJP passenger train that blew up at Belakoba station. Dey, who was on his way to Calcutta, was to have changed coaches at New Jalpaiguri Station.

A resident of Pandapara in Jalpaiguri, Dey had just stepped out of the compartment at the station a little after 6.15 this evening when there was a loud explosion.

“I had just taken a cup of tea from a vendor when a deafening noise left me numb for several seconds,” Dey said, sitting on a bed at the surgical ward of Jalpaiguri District Hospital an hour later. “I somehow managed to regain my senses and found that the bag I was carrying had caught fire. I doused it immediately and then noticed blood seeping from a cut on my forehead. I ran to the coach to locate my friend.”

But Das, a resident of Collegepara in Jalpaiguri, was dead. “I can’t believe what has happened. Minutes before, he was alive and had asked me to hurry up as the train would leave the station in minutes,” Dey said, his eyes betraying the horror.

Blood and pieces of flesh lay scattered in the compartment, as residents ran into the station and transferred Sarkar and at least 52 more like him, including children, to the district hospital and a local primary health centre.

Worried friends and relatives swarmed to the hospital, as ambulances started coming in with the injured.

Hospital sources said 53 injured passengers had been admitted of whom four had died. “Given the present state of affairs, more than 20 doctors, 30 nursing staff and an equal number of Group D staff are working here now,” said Suresh Chandra Bhowmik, the superintendent of the hospital. “While four of them died here and one of them is a child (unidentified). Six are seriously injured. One has splinters in his chest and another a serious injury in the eye.”

Members of Youth Congress, DYFI and several NGOs lined up to donate blood.

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