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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 July 2024

Kanchanjungha Express resumes journey, shaken survivor recalls morning crash

Confusion prevails over death toll, Darjeeling DM says nine killed in collision with goods train around 20 km from Siliguri

Arnab Ganguly Published 17.06.24, 03:15 PM
Rescue work underway after a collision between the Kanchanjungha Express and a goods train, near Rangapani railway station, on Monday, June 17, 2024. At least 15 people were killed and 60 others suffered injuries, according to officials.

Rescue work underway after a collision between the Kanchanjungha Express and a goods train, near Rangapani railway station, on Monday, June 17, 2024. At least 15 people were killed and 60 others suffered injuries, according to officials. PTI

Rashmi Barua and her six-year-old son, traveling from Agartala to Burdwan, are among the passengers aboard the Kanchanjungha Express who escaped unhurt after Monday morning’s collision with a goods train.

Darjeeling district magistrate Preeti Goyal said nine deaths had been confirmed in the accident, although news agency PTI quoted a railways official as saying that the toll was 15.

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According to the news agency, around 60 people were injured in the accident that occurred near Phansidewa, around 20 km south of Siliguri.

Five hours after the collision, Rashmi still sounded shaken. The Kanchanjungha Express had started moving again towards her destination Burdwan, she said.

Rashmi, who lives in Asansol, went to Guwahati on summer vacation to meet her parents and then to Agartala, where her brother studies at a college. The mother-son duo had boarded the train on Sunday morning.

“The train has picked up some speed now,” Rashmit told The Telegraph Online around 2pm on Monday. “After the train stopped at a small station [on resuming its journey], an inspection was carried out. I am just hoping that we can continue with the rest of the journey without any incident and reach home.”

Rashmi was on the coach B1, behind which were the three compartments – including an unreserved coach – that got derailed under the impact of the collision.

“In the morning after the train left the New Jalpaiguri station, it was moving slowly. Five minutes later it crossed a bridge. The collision happened soon after that,” she said.

“I did not understand that a collision had taken place. I thought someone was trying to stop the train by pulling the chain. Later on I heard a freight train had collided with ours. We had a narrow escape.”

Rashmi was attending to her son, who was in a middle berth, busy with a mobile phone, when the crash happened. It threw her backwards onto the lower berth. Her son landed near her feet, unhurt.

“The crash was followed by two or three strong pushes. I fell on the seat behind me and my son fell from the middle berth. Luckily none of us suffered any injuries,” she said.

Rashmi said some of her co-passengers had suffered injuries in their arms and heads, though none was critical.

“We waited and waited, there was hardly any help for us from the railway. A TTE came to our compartment once and told us that a bus has been arranged to take us to Siliguri,” she said.

None of the passengers in Rashmi’s compartment took the offer. An NGO from Siliguri had reached out to the passengers with some dry fruits. That was all that the passengers had since morning.

“Who would want to go to Siliguri? And how will we arrange for the rest of the journey? I decided to stay in the train and see what happens,” she said.

Had the accident not happened, Rashmi would have reached Burdwan by 4.30 pm. It will now take her close to midnight before she finally reaches her destination.

Trains diverted after crash

Due to the derailment of the Kanchanjungha Express, the following trains have been cancelled/will run via diverted route:

CANCELLED

I. 05797 New Jalpaiguri – Malda Town Passenger Special on 17.06.2024 and 18.06.2024.

II. 05796 Malda Town – New Jalpaiguri Passenger Special on 17.06.2024.

III. 05798 Malda Town – New Jalpaiguri Passenger Special on 18.06.2024 and 19.06.2024.

IV. 15709 Malda Town – New Jalpaiguri Express on 17.06.2024.

V. 15710 New Jalpaiguri – Malda Town Express on 18.06.2024.

DIVERTED

The following trains will be diverted via New Jalpaiguri – Siliguri – Baghdogra – Aluabari Road :

I. 12346 Guwahati – Howrah Saraighat Express (Journey commencing on 17.06.2024).

II. 12510 Guwahati – SMVT Bengaluru Express (Journey commencing on 17.06.2024).

III. 22302 New Jalpaiguri – Howrah Vande Bharat Express (Journey commencing on 17.06.2024).

IV. 22504 Dibrugarh - Kanyakumari Express (Journey commencing on 16.06.2024).

V. 15620 Kamakhya – Gaya Express (Journey commencing on 17.06.2024).

VI. 15962 Dibrugarh – Howrah Kamrup Express (Journey commencing on 17.06.2024).

VII. 13148 Bamanhat – Sealdah Uttarbanga Express (Journey commencing on 17.06.2024).

VIII. 15930 New Tinsukia – Tambaram Express (Journey commencing on 17.06.2024).

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