Two days after a major train collision was averted in Murshidabad, a local train hit the buffer at platform number one of Howrah station at 10.32 am on Saturday, injuring 21 passengers, three of them seriously.
The railway authorities suspended the driver and the guard of the train. Three of the injured persons were awarded Rs 500 each as ex-gratia.
People on the crowded platform were taken aback when the Down Pandua-Howrah local failed to stop and rammed against the buffer at the end of the tracks.
While those waiting on the platform scurried for safety, several passengers standing on the footboard waiting to detrain, lost balance and fell over. “We had been waiting for the train for a long time. Suddenly, we spotted it pulling in at an abnormally high speed. I was about to jump into a compartment in order to get a window seat, but decided against it. Soon there was a bang and people in the train toppled on one another,” a witness told the railway police during investigation.
The ladies’ compartment, the third coach on the local, got derailed under the impact. Some passengers in the coach suffered serious injuries. Pandemonium prevailed in the station for sometime, and railway authorities had to make an announcement over the public address system to assure the passengers.
An Eastern Railway spokesperson said four wheels of a coach came off the track as a result of the impact.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the driver of the train had failed to pull the brakes in time and had lost control of the train when it entered the station. Though he failed to stop the train from hitting the buffers, the driver managed to slow it down at the moment of impact.
Immediately after the accident, coolies and railway policemen swung into the rescue act. “Please help me. I think I have broken my leg,” pleaded one of the many moaning voices from inside coach number three.
Twenty-one persons were found to have sustained minor injuries. They were rushed to a nearby hospital where 18 were discharged in the afternoon after first-aid. Three of the injured were admitted to the Howrah Orthopaedic Hospital.
As a result of the accident, train services were suspended for some time. Normalcy was restored after the train was pulled out of the platform and waiting passengers took another train.
Tension also ran high at the station following a false alarm that a bomb had been planted inside a train. However, bomb squad personnel could not find anything after a search.