It was the first day of school for Rufaida Lozhat Rizza, 4, yesterday, and for her six-year-old cousin Talha it was the first day in nursery class.
Their mothers -- Nusrat Jahan Lucky, 28, and pregnant Tahmina Khatun, 32 -- were taking them to their school in Kaliakoir of Gazipur in their family car in the morning. They never reached the school.
The car was going over unmanned Shonakhali level crossing in Kaliakoir around 9:15am when it was hit by Maitree Express at speed. The collision shattered the vehicle like a piece of glass and instantly killed all five, including driver Minhaz Hossain.
Motaleb Mia, officer-in-charge of Kaliakoir Police Station, said the locomotive of the train pushed the twisted and mangled pieces of the car about 500 metres until the train reached Shonakhali Rail Bridge. The pieces of the car then fell from the bridge to the ground below.
Talha's father Shafiqul Islam Bidyut said his wife Tahmina was five months pregnant, yet she decided to take their son to school on his first day in nursery class.
Talha had awakened his father to say good bye.
Ripon Mia, father of Rizza, said, "As it was the first day of school for my daughter, my wife and daughter skipped breakfast and hurried to school, lest they be late."
A crying Ripon said he heard about the accident a little after they had left home.
He said he was not that eager to get his daughter in school at such a young age but his wife insisted on it.
The Shonakhali level crossing has become dangerous as there are a few shops near the level crossing which make it almost impossible for approaching vehicles to see if a train is coming, locals said.
Asked why there was no gateman at the level crossing, Ashim Kumar Talukder, a divisional manager of Bangladesh Railway, said there were 78 level crossings between Joydevpur and Bangabandhu Bridge East. But recently new roads have been built and now there are 95 level crossings.
The train, heading for Kolkata, was eventually able to stop about 2km from the accident scene and one of its carriages had derailed.
Rail communication to west zone was suspended for six hours. Sirajganj Express, Sunderganj Express, Dhumketu Express, and Neel Sagar were stranded at different stations during this time.