A couple, their son and a fourth person died when an SUV they were travelling in collided with a dump truck on NH12 near Gazole in Malda district on Sunday afternoon.
The deceased were Gopal Ghosh, 40, his wife Swapna, 35, their son Someswar, 6, and the couple’s friend Dulak Sheikh, 40.
Swapna succumbed to her injuries while she was being taken to Malda Medical College and Hospital. The other three died on the spot.
“The Mahindra Bolero in which they were travelling in is used by a state government department on rent. Preliminary investigation suggests that the driver of the vehicle was travelling with his family and a friend from Raiganj to Malda. They were using the vehicle as today was a holiday,” said a police officer.
The accident occurred at Mashaldighi.
Local residents said the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was carrying out repairs along a stretch of the four-lane NH12.
“So, one of the two lanes, along which vehicles should travel from Raiganj to Malda, has been kept closed for traffic. We suspect the driver overlooked the diversion and did not understand that he was travelling on a lane through which vehicles were coming from the opposite direction,” said Samir Pandit, a resident of Mashaldighi.
After the incident, local people rushed for help. A police team also reached the spot.
“The impact was so intense that it took a long time to extricate the bodies from the mangled SUV. The collision led to a halt in the traffic on the stretch for some time,” said the police officer.
A herd of 20-odd elephants strayed out of the Gorumara National Park in Jalpaiguri on Saturday night and entered the Kalipur Eco Village, an accommodation run by the state forest department. The herd damaged windows and walls of a number of rooms and also the kitchen. The water pipeline was also damaged.
The property, sources said, is closed now and there were no guests. The herd left after some time. The department ordered an inquiry to estimate the loss.