At least 16 people were killed and over 50 others injured in a head-on collision between two trains in Brahmanbaria district in east-central Bangladesh on Tuesday, according to media reports.
Chittagong-bound Udayan Express from Sylhet and Dhaka-bound Turna Nishita collided near Mondobhag station in the town of Kasba around 3.30 am on Tuesday, Hayat-ud-Dowla Khan, Brahmanbaria deputy commissioner was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune.
Khan said that the accident occurred because the loco masters did not obey the signals.
The Daily Star reported that the two trains collided as one of them — Udayan Express — was changing tracks at Akhaura railway junction.
He told AFP that the Turna Nishitha should have waited outside the station to let the other train pass and that an investigation had been started.
"Three coaches were badly mangled and the victims are from these coaches," Khan said, adding that train services out of Dhaka had been halted because of the accident.
Three separate probe committees have been formed to investigate the mishap, railways ministry secretary Mofazzal Hossain was quoted as saying in the report.
Identities of the deceased have not been ascertained yet, the report said.
"Nine of the deceased, including five men and four women, died on spot. Others died at different hospitals after the injured passengers were taken there," Kasba Upazila Nirbahi Officer Masud Ul Alam told Dhaka Tribune.
Shyamal Kanti Das, officer-in-charge of Akhaura railway police station, said 12 people died on the spot, while three others succumbed to injuries at different hospitals.
"The rescue operation was underway. The death toll may rise as many people are still trapped under the damaged coaches," he said.
Train services between Dhaka-Chattogram, Dhaka-Noakhali and Chattogram-Sylhet have been suspended following the accident.
Two relief trains from Akhaura and Laksam railway junctions have been rushed to the spot for rescue and relief operations, the Daily Star reported.
According to the Daily Star, Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina "expressed deep shock and sorrow at the loss of lives and injuries to many passengers" and "expressed sympathy to the bereaved families and prayed for the salvation of the departed souls".
"I don't know exactly why I see rail accidents occurring with the advent of winter, not only in our country but also throughout the world. Those who work in the railways should be made more alert while loco masters need to be provided training as well," Hasina said.
She said the rail communications are ought to be the safest ones and her government is also giving importance to this sector.
Describing the accident as shocking, she said, "We could protect ourselves from a natural disaster like Bulbul, but it's unfortunate that an accident occurred here (at Kasba, Brahmanbaria)."
Train accidents are common in Bangladesh and are often caused by poor signalling or other rundown infrastructure.
According to the Shipping and Communication Reporters Forum (SCRF), a private media research group, between 1 January and 30 June 30, 2019, at least 202 rail accidents took place in the South Asian country of 168 million people where some of the track is a century old.
In June, a train plunged into a canal after the bridge it was crossing gave way. Five people were killed and 100 injured.
The SCRF said pedestrians using mobile phones while crossing tracks, negligence by railway employees and poor maintenance of lines and bridges were the main cause of crashes.
With inputs from AFP
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Updated Date: Nov 12, 2019 14:32:33 IST