Railway Collision in Eastern India Kills 15

Onlookers watch as rescuers work after a cargo train rammed into Kanchanjunga Express, a passenger train, near New Jalpaiguri station, West Bengal state, India, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Diptendu Dutta)
Onlookers watch as rescuers work after a cargo train rammed into Kanchanjunga Express, a passenger train, near New Jalpaiguri station, West Bengal state, India, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Diptendu Dutta)
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Railway Collision in Eastern India Kills 15

Onlookers watch as rescuers work after a cargo train rammed into Kanchanjunga Express, a passenger train, near New Jalpaiguri station, West Bengal state, India, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Diptendu Dutta)
Onlookers watch as rescuers work after a cargo train rammed into Kanchanjunga Express, a passenger train, near New Jalpaiguri station, West Bengal state, India, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Diptendu Dutta)

A freight train smashed into the rear of a stationary passenger train in India's West Bengal state on Monday, killing at least 15 people and injuring dozens, police said, in an accident that railway authorities blamed on a disregarded signal.

Media showed images of the pile-up, with containers from the goods train strewn nearby, and one carriage left nearly vertical after the accident, which comes just over a year after a signaling error caused one of India's worst rail crashes.

At least 15 bodies have been pulled from the mangled carriages, Abhishek Roy, a senior police official in the eastern state's district of Darjeeling, the site of the accident, told Reuters.
Nearly 30 people were injured and rescue teams from the police and national disaster response force were working with doctors and residents of the area to clear debris from the derailed carriages, Roy added.

The goods train hit the Kanchanjunga Express travelling to Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, from the northeastern state of Tripura, driving three carriages of the passenger train off the rails.
It was not immediately clear how many passengers were on board at the time.

Rescuers used iron rods and ropes to work free one carriage of the passenger train that had been swept upwards to lodge on the roof of the freight train by the impact of the collision.

The dead included the driver of the freight train and a guard on the passenger train, Jaya Varma Sinha, the head of the railway board that runs the countrywide network, told reporters.

The accident happened after the driver of the freight train disregarded a signal and hit the rear end of the express train, Sinha added.

Rescue work has been completed, Sinha said, while authorities were working to restore traffic, although the damage had been less extensive than initially feared.

"The guard's compartment in the passenger train was badly damaged," he added. "There were two parcel vans attached ahead of it which reduced the extent of damage to passengers."

Nearby residents heard a loud crash and saw the pile-up upon going to investigate, several told the ANI news agency, in which Reuters has a minority stake.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences on the loss of life in the accident and said Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was on his way to the site.



Internet Hasn't Been Restored in Bangladesh despite Apparent Calm Following Deadly Protests

Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
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Internet Hasn't Been Restored in Bangladesh despite Apparent Calm Following Deadly Protests

Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)

Internet and mobile data services are still down despite apparent calm in Bangladesh following a verdict that scaled back a controversial quota system for government jobs after weeks of relentless protests that turned deadly.
The government has also declared Monday a public holiday, with only essential services running. This comes after a curfew with a shoot-on-sight order was installed days earlier and military personnel could be seen patrolling the capital and other areas, The Associated Press said.
The South Asian country witnessed clashes between the police and mainly student protesters demanding an end to a quota that reserved 30% of government jobs for relatives of veterans who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971.
The violence has killed more than a hundred people, according to at least four local newspapers. Authorities have not so far shared official figures for deaths. On Thursday, communications were cut off as tensions escalated.
There was no immediate violence reported on Monday morning after the Supreme Court ordered the veterans’ quota to be cut to 5%, with 93% of jobs allocated on merit, the day before. The remaining 2% will be set aside for members of ethnic minorities as well as transgender and disabled people.
On Sunday night, some student protesters urged the government to restore internet services. Hasnat Abdullah, a coordinator of the Anti-Discrimination Student Movement, told the Associated Press that they were withdrawing their calls for a complete shutdown, which they attempted to impose last week.
“But we are issuing an ultimatum for 48 hours to stop the digital crackdown and restore internet connectivity,” he said, adding that security officials deployed at various universities should be withdrawn, student dormitories reopened and steps taken so students can return to their campuses safely. Abdullah also said they wanted the government to end the curfew and ensure the country was back to normal within two days.
Students have also demanded some university officials to step down after failing to protect campuses. Sarjis Alam, another coordinator of the Anti-Discrimination Student Movement, said that they would continue with their protests if all their demands weren't met. “We cannot step back from our movement like a coward,” he added.
Another key organizer of the student protests, Nahid Islam, told reporters that the internet shutdown had disrupted their ability to communicate and alleged that authorities were trying to create divisions among protesters. “I am mentally traumatized ... our unity is being destroyed,” he said.
The US Embassy in the capital Dhaka described Sunday the situation as “extremely volatile” and “unpredictable,” adding that guns, tear gas and other weapons have been used in the vicinity of the embassy. They said the Bangladeshi army had been deployed and urged Americans to be vigilant, avoid large crowds and reconsider travel plans.
The protests have posed the most serious challenge to Bangladesh’s government since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won a fourth consecutive term in January elections that the main opposition groups boycotted. Universities have been closed, the internet has been shut off and the government has ordered people to stay at home.
Protesters had argued the quota system was discriminatory and benefited supporters of Hasina, whose Awami League party led the independence movement, and wanted it replaced by a merit-based system. Hasina has defended the quota system, saying that veterans deserve the highest respect regardless of political affiliation.
The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has backed the protests, vowing to organize its own demonstrations as many of its supporters joined the student-led protests.
The Awami League and the BNP have often accused each other of fueling political chaos and violence, most recently ahead of the country’s national election, which was marred by a crackdown on several opposition figures.