9 Dead, 41 Injured After Goods Train Hits Kanchanjunga Express In Bengal

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said doctors and disaster response teams have been rushed to the spot.


Nine people, including two Railway employees, have died and about 50 others injured after an express train collided with a goods train in Darjeeling district of West Bengal this morning. Kanchanjunga Express was travelling from Agartala in Tripura to Sealdah in Kolkata when a goods train hit it from behind near Rangapani station, close to New Jalpaiguri.

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Three coaches of Kanchanjunga Express were derailed in the crash. One factor which limited casualties is the fact that the rear part of Kanchanjunga Express comprised of the parcel coach and the guard's coach and the passenger compartments further ahead suffered less impact. 

Railway Board chairperson Jaya Verma Sinha told the media that the accident took place around 9 am. "The rescue work is complete. The injured have been shifted to the North Bengal medical college and they are being provided the best possible treatment," she said.

The unaffected front portion of Kanchenjunga Express, she said, will resume its onward journey soon so that the passengers can reach their destination.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said doctors and disaster response teams have been rushed to the spot. "Shocked to learn, just now, about a tragic train accident, in Phansidewa area of Darjeeling district. While details are awaited, Kanchenjunga Express has reportedly been hit by a goods train. DM, SP, doctors, ambulances and disaster teams have been rushed to the site for rescue, recovery, medical assistance. Action on war-footing initiated," she posted on X.

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The Kanchanjunga Express is a daily train that connects Bengal with the Northeastern cities of Silchar and Agartala. This route is in the Chicken's Neck corridor, which connects the Northeast with the rest of the country. The accident on this line can potentially impact the movement of several other trains.

The Kanchanjunga Express is frequently used by tourists to travel to Darjeeling. The accident comes at a time when Kolkata and neighbouring south Bengal are reeling under a sultry summer and many are travelling to the hill station for some relief.

According to the information so far, the goods train overshot the signal and crashed into the Kanchanjunga Express. Teams of the National Disaster Response Force and ambulances have been rushed to the spot. 

The Railways have released helpline numbers on which people could seek information about the situation. The numbers are 033-23508794 and 033-23833326 (Sealdah) and 03612731621, 03612731622 and 03612731623 at Guwahati.

Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw will reach the spot of accident shortly. A video by news agency ANI shows him riding pillion on a bike on his way to the site. He has said in a post on X that rescue operations have started on a war footing. "Unfortunate accident in NFR zone. Rescue operations going on at war footing. Railways, NDRF and SDRF are working in close coordination. Injured are being shifted to the hospital. Senior officials have reached site," he said.

The Railway minister added that the ministry will give compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the victims, Rs 2.5 lakh for grievous injuries and Rs 50,000 for minor injuries.

Sabyasachi De, CPRO of Northeast Frontier Railway, said no notification about diversion or cancellation of other trains on the route has been issued yet. "We will try to complete the rescue operation as soon as possible," he said, adding that an accident relief train is on its way. 

President Droupadi Murmu said the news of loss of lives in the train accident is "deeply distressing". My thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured and success of relief and rescue operations," she said in a post on X.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences for the families of those killed in the accident. "The railway accident in West Bengal is saddening. Condolences to those who lost their loved ones. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest. Spoke to officials and took stock of the situation. Rescue operations are underway to assist the affected. The Railways Minister Shri @AshwiniVaishnaw Ji is on the way to the site of the mishap as well," he posted on X.

The Prime Minister's Office has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the families of those killed and an assistance of Rs 50,000 for those injured in the accident.   

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said he was extremely distressed by the train accident. "The scenes of the accident are painful. Our heart goes out to the families of the victims. In this hour of grief, we express our solidarity and condolences to each one of them. We wish a speedy recovery to the injured. Immediate and full compensation must be provided to the victims," he said.

Mr Kharge alleged that the Narendra Modi government "has indulged in the utter mismanagement of the Railway Ministry".

"As a responsible Opposition, it is our bounden duty to underline how the Modi Govt has systematically converted the Rail Ministry into a platform of 'Camera-driven' self-promotion! Today's tragedy is yet another reminder of this stark reality," he said.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, too, expressed his condolences. "I request Congress workers to provide support to the rescue work."

Train accidents in the last 10 years, he said, were the result of Narendra Modi government's mismanagement and negligence. "Today's accident is another example of this reality. As a responsible Opposition, we will keep raising questions on this scary negligence and make the government accountable."