India train crash leaves at least 8 dead, dozens injured as freight train plows into passenger train

New Delhi — At least eight people were killed and more than 50 others injured when a freight train slammed into a passenger train Monday in India. The crash happened in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, when the goods train hit the Kanchanjunga Express in the New Jalpaiguri area, derailing at least three of the passenger train’s cars.

The Kanchanjunga Express was travelling from Silchar in Assam state to Sealdah in Kolkata when the collision occurred.

Stark images broadcast on Indian TV news channels showed hundreds of people watching rescuers try to save passengers trapped in the mangled train cars, one of which was left jutting up into the air at a steep angle.

India’s national NDTV network said the relatively low death toll, given the severity of the crash, could be due to the fact that the freight train slammed into the rear carriages of the passenger train, which were not believed to be carrying passengers.

INDIA-ACCIDENT-TRAIN
People gather near the site of a collision between a passenger train and a freight train in Nirmaljote, near Rangapani station in India’s West Bengal state, June 17, 2024.

DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty


“Five people, including the loco[motive] pilot of the Kanchanjunga Express, died on the spot. Twenty-five people are injured,” Abhishek Roy, Additional Superintendent of Police for the Darjeeling Police District, told reporters at the scene, adding that efforts to rescue people trapped in the train continued.

Officials later raised the confirmed death toll to eight.

The accident forced a suspension of all train services on the Kolkata-Siliguri line, officials said.

“The rescue work is complete,” Jaya Verma Sinha, chairperson of the Indian Railway Board told reporters, adding that injured victims were being provided “the best possible treatment.”

Sinha said human error appeared likely to have caused the accident, as “it seems that the driver of the goods train disregarded the signal.”

INDIA-ACCIDENT-TRAIN
People gather near the site of a collision between a passenger train and a freight train in Nirmaljote, near Rangapani station in India’s West Bengal state, June 17, 2024.

DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty


A detailed investigation was expected to confirm the cause of the fatal crash.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the crash “saddening” and announced informal government relief payments of 200,000 Indian rupees (about $2,400) for the families of people killed in the incident and 50,000 rupees (about $600) for those left injured.

Indian Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced separate state compensation of 1 million rupees (about $12,000) for each family that had someone killed in the crash, and 250,000 rupees (about $3,000) for those injured.

India has one of the largest rail networks on the planet, but accidents are common. In June 2023, one of India’s deadliest train accidents, involving three trains in the eastern state of Odisha, killed almost 300 people and left more than 1,000 others injured.  


Families of India train crash victims demand answers

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