SAMASTIPUR: Railways suffered an estimated loss of over Rs 90 crore as a furious mob set ablaze 15 coaches, including an AC coach and locomotive of the Saharsa-Patna Rajyarani Express (12567) and five coaches and the locomotive of Samastipur-Saharsa passenger train at Dhamara Ghat on Saharsa-Mansi section under Samastipur division of East Central Railway (ECR) after 37 passengers were killed by the running train around 9am on Monday morning. Railways, however, put the death toll at 28.
The railway communication system was totally paralysed as an irate mob also ransacked the railway station, cabin and tracks. It was difficult for railways to rush the rescue team to the site soon after the mishap, said ECR CPRO Amitbah Prabhakar. According to him, most of the officials, including railway doctors of the rescue team, were unable to reach the accident site because of lack of direct road link. He said the railways rescue team could reach the spot at 2.45pm only.
The CPRO said ECR GM Madhuresh Kumar, along with senior officials of the ECR headquarters, rushed to the site by a special train soon after receiving the information about the incident. However, Samastipur DRM Arun Mallik and other senior officials of the division were already camping at the site and supervising the rescue and relief works, he said.
Though railways was yet to announce an inquiry to probe the exact cause behind the incident, prima facie it appeared that the mishap took place while the victims were crossing the tracks when Rajyarani Express was coming from Saharsa end. The CPRO said railways started its rescue operation after getting clearance from the local police.
He said the mob assaulted the train driver and made several staff of Dhamara Ghat hostage for a few hours. They were released after police intervention. Traffic system would remain suspended on Saharsa-Mansi section till normalcy returned, he said.
Meanwhile, railways cancelled four passenger trains on Monday which included Saharsa-Amritsar Jansewa Express, Saharsa-Barauni Express, Patna-Saharsa Rajyarani Express and Patna-Saharsa Kosi Express. Amritsar-Saharsa Garib Rath was short terminated at Begusarai on Monday and it would originate from there for Amritsar. Sealdah-Saharsa passenger would originate from Mansi while Amritsar-Saharsa Jansewa was terminated at Barauni. Besides, Barauni-Saharsa passenger train was also terminated at Khagaria, the CPRO said.