At least 11 persons, aged between 11 to 24 years, died while six others were injured in a collision between a train and a tourist microbus at a level crossing in Mirsharai Upazila of Chattogram district, police said.
The eyewitnesses told IANS that some of the victims lifted the barricade to cross the railway tracks as the gateman had left it unmanned to offer ‘jummah namaz’ on Friday.
Hasan Chowdhury, the Superintendent of Police at Chattogram Railway Police, said: “We’re still not sure whether the gateman was present at the time of the accident or not. We’re investigating the matter.”
Bangladesh Railway authorities have started investigating the accident and formed two committees to probe the matter.
Divisional Transport Officer of Bangladesh Railway’s eastern zone, Ansar Ali is heading the five-member committee while a four-member panel was constituted with Additional Chief Engineer Arman Hossain at the helm.
Nazim Uddin, Chattogram Railway Police Chief, said that two people were working as the gatemen on a temporary basis at the level crossing. One of them, Saddam Hussain, was on duty during the accident, therefore, the police have detained him for questioning.
After visiting the accident site, Jahangir Alam, General Manager of Bangladesh Railway’s eastern zone, said: “I spoke with the gateman and he claimed that he was present at the time of the accident.”
Citing Saddam, the gateman, the railway authorities said he had lowered the barricade at the level crossing but the microbus breached it.
Chattogram-bound ‘Mahanagar Provati’ train from Dhaka hit the tourist microbus at Khoiyachhora level crossing, on the outskirt of Chittagong, and pushed it along for nearly one km near Bara Takia station at around 1:30 p.m. on Friday, killing 11 people.
Six persons are undergoing treatment and are reportedly in a critical condition, said a doctor to IANS on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, after completing his Secondary School Certificate examination, one of the deceased victim Musba Ahmed Hisham was scheduled to board a flight to meet his mother in Canada, who lives there with her daughter.
Though, all the procedures had been made so that Hisham could easily move to Canada. But in the irony of fate, he will never get to see his mother as he died along with 10 others in a train-microbus crash in Mirsarai upazila on Friday afternoon.
Hisham was a student of K.S. Nazu Mia High School in Hathazari upazila. He was the youngest brother of all the four siblings in his family. He lived in his uncle’s house in Hathazari and was a student of R&J Coaching Centre at Jugirhat in Aman Bazar area.
The tourist microbus was carrying 18 passengers — teachers and students of a private coaching centre — from the Aman Bazar area of Hathazari Upazila to Khoiyachhora waterfall.
Most of the victims were aged between 18 and 25 years.
The level crossing has boom barriers on both sides, and they were lowered before the accident, a doctor said, citing gateman Saddam.
The passengers of the microbus lifted the barrier after a train from Chattogram crossed the road, Jahangir said. The train from Dhaka arrived at that time and hit the vehicle.
Mofizul Haque, the keeper of a shop near the crossing, said the gateman left the crossing to offer his prayers after lowering the boom barriers.