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Kanchanjunga Express Collides with Goods Train, 9 Killed

On June 17, 2024, a collision between the Kanchanjunga Express and a goods train resulted in the loss of nine lives and left more than 30 others injured. The accident occurred near the Rangapani region, close to North Bengal’s New Jalpaiguri station.

Kanchanjunga Express Collides with Goods Train, 9 Killed

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The collision happened at approximately 8:50 AM when a goods train overshot a signal and struck the rear of the Kanchanjunga Express, which was traveling from Agartala in Tripura to Sealdah in Kolkata.

The impact caused three rear coaches of the Kanchanjunga Express to derail. One of the train’s parcel coaches was reportedly hit first, limiting the damage to passenger compartments.

Initial reports indicated at least nine fatalities including two railway employees. Around 60 individuals sustained injuries with 30 being classified as non-fatal.

The injured have been transported to North Bengal Medical College and other nearby hospitals for treatment.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) were quickly mobilized for rescue operations, working in coordination with the railway and local authorities.

Local authorities set up a control desk at Rangapani station to manage rescue and relief efforts. Senior railway officials including the Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, reached the site to oversee the operations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased and wished for the speedy recovery of the injured. He also mentioned that the Railway Minister was en route to the accident site.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee highlighted the response from district officials and announced that doctors, ambulances and disaster response teams were sent to the scene.

President Droupadi Murmu and other leaders including Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi expressed their distress over the accident and extended their condolences.

The Railway Ministry announced compensation for the victims’ families and the injured: ₹10 lakh for the deceased, ₹2.5 lakh for those with severe injuries and ₹50,000 for minor injuries.

Additional support was provided by the Prime Minister’s Office, offering ₹2 lakh for the families of those killed and ₹50,000 for the injured.

Rescue operations were completed by early afternoon with all injured individuals transferred to medical facilities.

The unaffected front portion of the Kanchanjunga Express resumed its journey to ensure passengers could reach their destinations without delay.

The goods train involved in the collision reportedly failed to stop at a signal leading to the crash with the rear end of the Kanchanjunga Express. The impacted parcel coach and guard’s compartment helped to reduce casualties among passengers.

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The goods train hit the Kanchanjunga Express from behind leading to the derailment of three rear compartments. One of the derailed coaches was flung into the air due to the impact.

The initial investigation suggested that the driver of the goods train ignored a signal leading to the collision.

However, it later emerged that the goods train had been authorized to pass red signals due to a malfunction in the automatic signaling system in the area.

Rescue operations were conducted and completed with emergency services and local authorities on the scene. The Chairperson and CEO of the Railway Board, Jaya Varma Sinha confirmed the conclusion of rescue operations.

Nine fatalities were confirmed and over 30 individuals sustained injuries, some of which were severe. The injured were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment with many receiving critical care.

Extensive restoration work was carried out to clear the tracks and restore normal train services. The Kanchanjunga Express, after undergoing necessary repairs, resumed its journey and reached its destination at Sealdah early on Tuesday morning.

At Aluabari station, local voluntary organizations provided food and water to passengers who had been on the Kanchanjunga Express. A special helpdesk was established at Sealdah station to assist affected families and passengers.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticized the central government for neglecting railway safety, addressing the need for better maintenance and safety protocols.

The Congress party demanded the resignation of the Railways Minister, citing mismanagement and safety lapses within the ministry.

The malfunction of the automatic signaling system between Ranipatra station and Chattar Hat Junction was highlighted as a critical failure.

The goods train driver had been given written authorization to pass red signals, complicating the initial narrative of driver error.

The Commissioner of Railway Safety has initiated a detailed investigation to ascertain the exact causes and contributing factors of the accident.

Internal railway documents indicated that the signaling system failure had been known since early Monday morning.

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