A car carrying two families from Calcutta to Darjeeling rammed into a roadside tree in Murshidabad on Sunday afternoon, leaving two women and a child dead.
The women who died were Priti Verma, 32, wife of Major Sanjiv Verma, and Ina Tiwary, 30, wife of Major N.R. Tiwary. The other victim - five-year-old Arthav - was Major Verma's son.
Major Verma and Major Tiwari are army doctors. Major Verma is attached to Calcutta's Command Hospital.
Six members of the two families - the two couples, Arthav and the four-year-old daughter of Major Tiwari - were travelling in a Skoda Laura. The accident occurred at 1pm on the Moregram-Burdwan road near Khargram in Murshidabad, around 200km from Calcutta.
Priti and her son died on the spot, while Ina died at Kandi Sub-Divisional Hospital, around 20km from the accident site.
Major Verma, 37, who was at the wheel, suffered head injuries. He has been admitted to Kandi Sub-divisional Hospital in Murshidabad. Police said a primary investigation revealed that he was the owner of the car.
Major Tiwary, also 37, fractured his left hand and also suffered leg injuries. "He has been referred to Murshidabad Medical College Hospital and Hospital in Behrampore. The major's four-year-old daughter suffered a fracture in her left leg. She has been admitted to the Kandi hospital," a police official said.
The mangled remains of the car in which the two families from Calcutta were travelling. Picture by Chayan Majumdar
Witnesses said the car, with a Madhya Pradesh registration number, was travelling at a high speed when it suddenly swerved off the road and hit a tree. "Going by the damage it suffered, the car must have been travelling at 100kmph," a police officer said.
"We are yet to ascertain why the car swerved off the road. There was apparently no obstruction."
Abid Sheikh, a farmer, was cycling home from Khargram when he heard a loud noise ahead. "I cycled up to the spot and saw a car had dashed against a roadside tree. I and some other local people tried to help the injured, who were groaning," Abid recounted. "One among us alerted Khargram police station about the accident."
In the evening, the doctors' colleagues from Calcutta reached Murshidabad. The survivors are likely to be shifted to Command Hospital in Alipore.
"Major Verma is undergoing postgraduate training at Command Hospital in Calcutta, while Major Tiwary is doing postgraduate training at the Army Research & Referral (R&R) Hospital in New Delhi and was in Calcutta," Wing Commander S.S. Birdi, a spokesperson for the defence ministry in Calcutta said. "Efforts are on to bring the injured and the deceased to the city."