Authorities suspect the level-crossing’s gateman was sleeping on the job
At least 12 people have been killed and three others injured in a collision between a train and a bus in Joypurhat that police say was due to the negligence of the level-crossing gateman.
Train communications with the northern regions remain suspended for hours over the accident that took place in the Puranapoil area of Joypurhat Sadar upazila on Saturday morning.
Police said that the train-bus collision took place as the gateman of the level-crossing failed to close the gate for traffic on time which they suspect was because he was sleeping on the job.
Joypurhat Superintendent of Police (SP) Md Salam Kabir said the suspected gateman has been on the run since the incident.
A bus coming from Dinajpur’s Hili collided with the train, Uttara Express, which started from Parbatipur upazila, Dinajpur, at 6:55am Saturday.
The train dragged the bus on the tracks for about half a kilometre.Ten passengers died on the spot while five others were severely injured and sent to Joypurhat Modern Hospital.
When their condition worsened, they were moved to Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College Hospital in Bogra where two of them died.
Four of the deceased have been identified. They are as Sarwar Hossain, 35, and his younger brother Arifuzzaman Rabbi, 25, of Atul village under Panchbibi upazila of Joypurhat, Zia Rahman, 50, from the same upazila, and Julhash, 55, from Tangail's Bhuapur upazila.
Joypurhat Deputy Commissioner (DC) Md Shariful Islam, and Superintendent of Police (SP) Md Salam Kabir, along with the fire service officers, reached the scene soon after the incident and are taking necessary measures to clear the path.
Joypurhat Deputy Commissioner Shariful Islam said that the tragic accident took place at the Puranapoil railway gate because the gateman did not perform his duty.He said the bodies of the deceased have been sent to the morgue. He also said the district administration would bear the overall cost including their burial work.
Rail communication with the western side of the country has been halted since the accident. Rescue trains arrived at the scene to normalize rail communication.
Attempts are being made to remove the bus and train involved in the accident, said the deputy commissioner.
Besides the DC and SP, Joypurhat Sadar Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Milton Chandra Roy and District Council Chairman Arifur Rahman Rocket also inspected the scene.
Railway authorities formed a four-member committee, headed by Nasir Uddin, chief officer of Railway West zone, while the local administration formed a three-member body led by Additional Deputy Magistrate (ADM) Reza Hassan, reports UNB.
The committees have been asked to submit their reports within three working days.
Train accidents frequent in Bangladesh
Train accidents in Bangladesh happen frequently, many at unmanned level-crossings, and also due to poor condition of tracks.
According to data provided by Bangladesh Railway in August last year, only 466 gates among its 1,412 level-crossings have gatekeepers.
Casualties in train accidents appeared to be a common phenomenon in the country, allegedly for the lack of proper maintenance by the authorities, and negligence as well.
In November last year, a deadly collision took place between Dhaka-bound Turna Nishita Express and Chittagong-bound Udayan Express on Dhaka-Chittagong route in Mandbagh Railway Station in Kasba upazila of Brahmanbaria killing at least 16 people.
At least 113 people, including 26 women and 11 children, were killed in railway accidents between January 1 and June 30 this year, says a report in July – jointly prepared by Green Club of Bangladesh (GCB) and National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways (NCPSRR).