A commuter train ploughed through traffic at Sayedabad level crossing in the capital yesterday killing six people and injuring 25.
Rab-3 sources said they found four bodies on the spot. Two people died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Five of the deceased were identified as Nazim Uddin, 26, a student of Jagannath University, pedestrians Liza Begum, 42, Azufa Khatun, 45, and Humayun, 22, and vendor Abed Ali, 60. Another man of approximately 32 years also died in the accident.
Witnesses said the train from Narayanganj rammed two buses that were stuck on the level crossing around 5:00pm. It tossed one of the buses far on to a rickshaw, makeshift shops beside the road and pedestrians.
They said the level crossing gateman did not close the gate (one of four gates) before the rail line. Rather he closed the gate after the line, which was put there to prevent vehicles crossing over using the wrong side of the road.
The busses could not go backwards due to stationary traffic and forward for the closed gate. Seeing the train approaching the passengers were able to disembark but most casualties occurred when the train tossed the busses on to a rickshaw, shops and bystanders.
The train was not travelling fast and it managed to stop on the level crossing.
Following the incident, the drivers of the buses and the train disappeared. Vehicular movement on the busy road resumed after the busses and the train were removed around 6:20pm. The delay in moving the train caused serious traffic jams in the area.
“It was a terrifying scene unfolding before my eyes. The two buses got stuck on the track as the gate on one side of the line was closed but the other side was not in place,” said Selim who saw the whole thing from only 20 yards away.
“The train was blowing its whistle but the buses could not get out of the way and the train tossed one of the buses on to a rickshaw and several makeshift fruit shops beside the line.”
He claimed, “The accident occurred just due to the mistake of the gateman who was nowhere to be found. If the makeshift fruit shops were not there and the gateman had done his job responsibly, the accident would not have had happened.”
Doctor HA Nazmul Hakim, resident at the casualty block of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, told The Daily Star that people rushed there with severe injuries. Two of them are in a critical condition, he said.
Meanwhile, Md Shahjahan, joint director general (operations) of Bangladesh Railway, told The Daily Star, “The accident probably had occurred as the buses ignored the signal of the railway gateman to stop ahead of the closing level crossing gate.”
He said a four-member investigation team headed by Chief Operation Superintendent Shah Jahir of the railway has been formed.