At Least 8 Dead After Trains Collided in Eastern India in Tourist Hotspot

At Least 8 Dead After Trains Collided in Eastern India in Tourist Hotspot
Onlookers watch as rescuers work after a cargo train rammed into Kanchanjunga Express, a passenger train, near New Jalpaiguri station, West Bengal state, India, on June 17, 2024. (Diptendu Dutta/AP Photo)
The Associated Press

NEW DELHI—A cargo train rammed into a passenger train in India’s eastern state of West Bengal on Monday, killing at least eight people and injuring several others, officials said.

Doctors, disaster-response teams, and ambulances were at the site in the Darjeeling district, a tourist spot nestled in the Himalayan foothills, the state’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in a post on social media platform X.

Three of the eight dead were railway personnel, said Sabyasachi De, the spokesperson of the Northeast Frontier Railway. Nearly 50 people were hospitalized.

Television channels showed footage of one train rammed into the end of the other, with one compartment rising vertically in the air. Many people gathered as rescuers searched through the debris.

The driver of the cargo train, who was among the dead, disregarded a signal and caused the collision, Mr. De said. Four compartments at the rear of the passenger train had derailed due to the impact, he said, adding most of the cars were carrying cargo while one was a passenger coach.

Mr. De said workers were in the process of restoring the damaged tracks and removing the derailed coaches. The rest of the coaches continued to their original destination of Kolkata, the state’s capital, he added.

The Kanchanjunga Express is a daily train that connects West Bengal state with other cities in the northeast. It is often used by tourists who travel to the hill station of Darjeeling, popular at this time of year when other Indian cities are sweltering in the heat.

More than 12 million people ride 14,000 trains across India daily, traveling on 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) of track. Despite government efforts to improve rail safety, several hundred accidents happen annually, most blamed on human error or outdated signaling equipment.

Last year, a train crash in eastern India killed over 280 people in one of the country’s deadliest accidents in decades.