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HomeLatest NewsBengal train tragedy: 1st-on-scene villagers say railways, NDRF teams came 2-3 hours...

Bengal train tragedy: 1st-on-scene villagers say railways, NDRF teams came 2-3 hours after accident | India News

PHANSIDEWA: Villagers, armed with household utensils like tongs, and work instruments like hammers and shovels, were the first responders at the accident site on Monday, managing to bring out most of the injured and the dead from the bogies amidst heavy rain, hours before railway men and trained rescue personnel from NDRF reached the site.
According to locals involved in rescue operations, a railway team reached the spot and engaged in rescue operations only at 10.45am, nearly two hours after the accident.They also said the NDRF team arrived an hour later, around noon, by which time nearly all injured had been rescued and most bodies retrieved.
New Jalpaiguri junction is only about 11km from the accident site.
Both railway and NDRF have refuted the allegations of late arrival. Acknowledging that the location of the station – in the middle of two rural rail stations and at least a kilometre’s trek along tea plantations and agricultural fields from Phansidewa Road – was a constraint, they said they had reached the spot as early as they could.
The locals of Nirmal Jote, where the incident occurred, insisted the rescue team arrived late and pointed out that many of the injured were taken to hospitals in e-rickshaws, as ambulances had arrived much later.
Md Hasim, one of the locals who had rushed to the spot along with his friends, said they used chisels and hammers to pry open doors and evacuate passengers stuck inside. Also, because it had been raining, most coach windows were shut. “We used kitchen utensils like tongs to open the windows and take out the wounded,” he said.
“I cut my hand while rescuing a passenger who was stuck. There were no ambulances. Local youths hired private vehicles and sent the injured to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital,” said Md Rahul.
An NDRF officer said they were alerted about the accident at 10.05am. The first of the three teams reached the spot by 10.40am, he added. “There were three bodies – that of the loco pilot and co-pilot of the goods carriage and that of the guard of Kanchenjunga Express – that were caught in a mangled mess. Our men managed to retrieve them. The entire rescue operation was complete by 2pm. While two of our teams are on standby at the spot, one has left,” the officer said.
The officer added that 82 NDRF personnel were engaged in the rescue operation. Two officers flew down from Kolkata. NF Railway Katihar division CPRO Savyasachi De said the railways responded promptly and acted as soon as they received information about the incident. “The railways promptly reached the spot. The rescue was complete by noon,” he said.

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