Sainthia, West Bengal: The death toll in Monday's Sainthia train collision in West Bengal has reached 63, with only 33 bodies identified so far. All bodies recovered from the wreckage will be shifted to Bardhaman Medical College hospital today. (See Pictures)
While an enquiry is underway to ascertain what actually caused this devastating accident, preliminary reports point towards a human error. The Uttarbanga Express drove into the station at high speed, crashing into the rear of the Vananchal Express. (Watch: Report from Ground Zero | One bogey mounts another, roof on overbridge | Read: Unanswered questions on cause of train accident)
Now a signal incharge at the station told NDTV that he heard the station master trying to alert the driver of the Uttarbanga Express on the walkie-talkie (more formally known as a hand-held transceiver), but got no response.
Rehmat Ali was the signal incharge of the east cabin at the time of the accident at the Sainthia junction.
Speaking to NDTV, he describes what he saw and how they tried to alert the Uttarbanga Express driver and guard.
Ali: Vananchal Express 3404 down was standing on platform 4. No other train was supposed to be there.
NDTV: Tell us, if one train is standing at a platform then the signal behind the last coach should be red?
Ali: Yes, it must be red. It can never be green. The driver must have violated the red signal.
NDTV: Probably no communication was possible with the driver of Uttarbanga Express within a short time?
Ali: No. It was not possible. The driver and the gaurd did not talk on the walkie-talkie about what the problem was. But normally they do communicate. So he did not know. Also it was coming at a high speed and so within 30 seconds the trains collided.
On Monday, Railway Board Chairman Vivek Sahay had said the driver was experienced and could not have committed a mistake. "We do not know whether the signal was given. Even if the signal was given, the train has to stop at Sainthia," Sahay said.
The collision was so severe that the roof and sides of one of the compartments of the Vananchal Express were slammed onto an overhead bridge for pedestrians. A part of another compartment of the Vananchal Express split and fell on the road along the tracks after being thrown over the bridge.
Meanwhile, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, who inspected the site of the accident on Monday, has said the accident raises suspicion, implying that there may have been some sort of sabotage. (Read and watch: Detailed probe ordered, says Mamata)