• Tuesday, Feb 25, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:06 pm

Kulaura train derailment: Minister, secretary blame overcrowding

  • Published at 12:21 am June 25th, 2019
web-train accident Kulaura upazila of Moulvibazar
Crane is being used to move on of the derailed bogies of Upaban Express train at Baramchal in Moulvibazar’s Kulaura upazila on Monday, June 24, 2019 Courtesy: Asmit Aovi

Fear of finding more corpses remains

Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan blamed the “excessive rush of passengers” for the derailment of Upaban Express in Kulaura, Moulvibazar, that killed four people and left scores injured.

Confirming the development and the fatalities, the minister in a regular cabinet meeting on Monday also blamed mismanagement on the Dhaka-Sylhet highway for adding to the pressure of passengers on the rail route.   

After the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam briefed the media, quoting the minister.  

The minister also expressed fears that more corpses may be discovered from underneath the derailed train bogies or carriages. 

According to the cabinet secretary, the prime minister has ordered the identification and immediate repair of weak rail bridges.

Five compartments of the Dhaka-bound Upaban Express train derailed around 11:40pm on Sunday, crossing a culvert over the Barochhara Canal at Baramchal in Moulvibazar’s Kulaura upazila. At least 67 people were injured in the accident.

Also Read- 4 killed as intercity train Upaban goes off the tracks in Moulvibazar

Contacted, Railways Secretary Md Mofazzel Hossain who visited the scene, seconded the minister’s observations.

“It was the excessive pressure of passengers which caused the bogies to veer off the tracks,” he said. 

When asked about the condition of the rail bridge concerned, he said although the train bogies skidded off, the bridge did not collapse.

Responding to a query about whether the ministry or the Bangladesh Railway (BR) authorities had identified any primary reason for the accident, the secretary said they have formed a four-member probe body which will find out what led to the accident.

“The committee, led by Railways Chief Mechanical Engineer Md Mizanur Rahman, has been given a three-day deadline to submit his findings. But I hope the committee will be able to complete the task within two days,” he added. 

Railway sources said the Upaban Express, which regularly runs with 15 coaches, added two more bogies seeing the huge rush of passengers. 

Moulvibazar Civil Surgeon Dr Shahjahan Kabir said: “Of the injured, 20 are in critical condition and undergoing treatment at Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital."

On February 22, 2018, the same train service derailed, snapping rail communication to and from Sylhet to the rest of the country, for nearly 24 hours. Although several people were injured in the accident, no one was killed. 

Also Read- Kulaura train derailment: Passengers blame overcrowding

A probe into the incident had revealed the train’s locomotive driver was drowsy, leading to the derailment. 

Commenting on the latest accident, National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways (NCPSRR) General Secretary, Ashis Kumar Dey, said: “Operational glitches and the carelessness of BR authorities might have caused the accident.”

“This is unfortunate that the route, being a busy one, has witnessed such an accident that killed many,” he added.  

The dead

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 from Sunamganj.

Sanjida Akhter and Fahmida Yasmin were both third year students of Sylhet Nursing College.

Two reported missing

Two passengers of the Upaban Express are missing, according to their family members. 

The passengers are Dulal Ahmed, 35, from Baliakandi village in Sylhet Sadar upazila, who is an RMG worker in Dhaka, and Abul Kalam, 36, from Boroikandi village in the same upazila. 

Dulal’s father, Rashid Ali, told Dhaka Tribune that Dulal was supposed to return to Dhaka on the train on Sunday night, but as of yesterday afternoon, he had not yet reached Dhaka. 

His phone is also switched off, Rashid said. 

Kalam was also supposed to return to Dhaka on Upaban Express, but had not come back as of yesterday afternoon and his phone was unreachable, his cousin Abdul Ali said. 

Both Dulal and Kalam’s family members have looked for them among the injured at MAG Osmani Medical College in Sylhet, but did not find them there. 

The Railway authorities were not available for comment.  

Rescue operation

“At around 5am Monday, rescuers started searching the bogies for trapped or injured passengers,” Deputy Assistant Director Shimul Md Rafi of Habiganj Fire Service and Civil Defence, told reporters at the scene.

He said 11 units were conducting the rescue operation at the scene alongside police and Border Guard Bangladesh personnel, and locals. 

Our Sylhet correspondent Md Serajul Islam contributed to this report