The death toll following the derailment of the Guwahati-Bikaner Express in Domohani area in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district rose to nine on Friday, with more than 70 passengers injured.
Confirming the increased toll to News18, Anshul Gupta, General Manager of Northeast Frontier Railway (NRF) said rail security officers will reach the accident site at 2pm to investigate.
The Guwahati-Bikaner Express 15633 started from Bikaner in Rajasthan and was heading to Guwahati in Assam via Patna when 12 coaches derailed near Maynaguri in Jalpaiguri district at around 5.15 pm on Thursday. Maynaguri was not one of the train’s 34 stoppages’ list and the Bikaner Express was merely passing Jalpaiguri at the time of the incident.
The NFR said in a statement in Guwahati that the rescue operations have been completed. There were 1,053 passengers on board the train at the time of the derailment, it said, adding those stranded were provided drinking water and snacks.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the tragedy when they were in the middle of an online meeting to review the Covid situation in the country with other CMs. “Spoke to Railways Minister Shri @AshwiniVaishnaw and took stock of the situation in the wake of the train accident in West Bengal. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly," Modi later tweeted.
The Railways have announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the accident, Rs 1 lakh to the grievously injured and Rs 25,000 for passengers with simple injury. President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu too expressed grief over the accident and wished speedy recovery to those injured.
“The derailment of coaches of the Bikaner-Guhawati Express near New Maynaguri, West Bengal is distressing. My thoughts and prayers are with the affected passengers and their families. I wish a speedy recovery to the injured, Kovind tweeted. Vice President Naidu said he was deeply saddened by the loss of lives. “My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured," the Vice President’s Secretariat tweeted, quoting Naidu.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has asked Energy Minister Bhanwar Singh Bhati and Disaster Management and Relief Minister Govind Ram Meghwal to rush to Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal and coordinate relief efforts on behalf of the state government.