Five bogies of Dhaka-bound Upaban Express train, coming from Sylhet, veered off the tracks around 11:40pm
At least four people have been killed and around 67 injured after an intercity train derailed at Baramchal in Moulvibazar’s Kulaura upazila.
Five bogies of Dhaka-bound Upaban Express train, coming from Sylhet, veered off the tracks around 11:40pm on Sunday after a culvert over the Barochhara Canal broke down, according to railway and police officials.
Two of the bogies fell into the canal and one of them overturned, while the other bogies remained tilted.
The culvert is adjacent to Kala Miar Bazar and only 200 yards away from Baramchal Railway Station.
Following the derailment, rail communication between Sylhet and rest of the country has snapped.
However, one of the five derailed bogies have been recovered by a relief train as rescue operation continues.
The deceased were identified as- Manwara Parveen, 45, wife of Bari Mia of Kulaura upazila, Sanjida Akhter, daughter of Md Akram Molla of Mollahat upazila in Bagerhat, Fahmida Yasmin Eva, daughter of Abdul Bari of Daksin Surma upazila of Sylhet, and Md Kawsar, hailed from Sunamganj.
Sanjida Akhter and Fahmida Yasmin both were third year students of Sylhet Nursing College.
Confirming the death toll, Moulvibazar Civil Surgeon Dr Shahjahan Kabir said: "Moreover, 67 passengers have been injured. 20 of them are in critical condition and undergoing treatment at Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital."
Around 5am on Monday, rescuers started searching the bogies for trapped or injured passengers, Habiganj Fire Service and Civil Defence’s Deputy Assistant Director Shimul Md Rafi told reporters at the scene.
He said 11 units were conducting the rescue operation at the scene alongside police and Border Guard Bangladesh personnel, as well as the locals.
Earlier, around 2am, Fire Service’s Kulaura Station Manager Apen Kumar Singha at the scene had told reporters that six people were killed in the accident.
“But we are yet to determine the total number of casualties. We will brief the media after the rescue operation ends,” he said.
Moulvibazar’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Md Shahjalal at the time had also given the same death toll and put the number of injured people at more than 250.
However, locals who worked overnight with the first responders claimed at least 10 to 15 people were killed in the accident, creating a cloud of confusion surrounding the death toll.
The accident also snapped Sylhet’s rail communications with other parts of the country.
Survivors told reporters that the accident likely occurred as the train was overloaded with passengers.
People who regularly travel between the capital and Sylhet have been relying on the trains for the past week as repair works on a bailey bridge at Shahbazpur in Brahmanbaria’s Sarail has halted Dhaka-Sylhet bus services.
Cause yet to be known
After visiting the scene, the district’s Deputy Commissioner Md Tofayel Islam told reporters around 3:40am on Monday that they were yet to find out the cause of the accident.
“We cannot say for sure how this happened until the team of engineers and specialists comes and determines the reason,” he said, when asked whether the overloaded condition of the train led to the accident.
“We are waiting for them. An investigation committee is also likely to be formed for this,” he added.
Moulvibazar SP Shahjalal at the briefing also said that they were coordinating with the railway officials to move the derailed bogies of the train quickly to clear the tracks.
He added that police were working with the other first responders to successfully end the rescue operation as soon as possible, while ensuring foolproof security at the scene.
“There are no more injured or trapped people left here. But we will know for sure whether there have been any more casualties after we move the derailed bogies,” the SP said.
Dragged for a kilometre?
Kulaura railway officials said Upaban Express left Sylhet at 10pm Sunday. Five of its bogies went off the tracks while crossing the Barochhara Canal culvert.
Soon after, the first responders arrived at the scene and the rescue operation began.
However, sources in Moulvibazar police said that the driver reportedly kept going on even after five bogies of the train derailed.
The train stopped after apparently dragging the bogies about one kilometre, after cries for help of the panicked passengers reached the driver.
Meanwhile, Kulaura police station OC Yardous Hasan told reporters that the lack of proper light and a crowd of unhelpful locals who are busy streaming the situation live on social media were hampering the rescue operation.
Police were seen using loud-hailers to ask those crowding the area to disperse.
The OC said that a group of miscreants were stealing and attempting to steal the luggage of the accident victims, and they have arrested several suspected thieves.
Additional reporting by Md Serajul Islam from Sylhet