A just-married couple had a horrible start to their new life yesterday with 11 of their loved ones killed as a train rammed the bus carrying their party on a level crossing at Barobazar of Kaliganj in Jhenidah.
At least 60 others were injured.
The Simanta Express from Saidpur rammed the bus at the level crossing at speed and took it half a kilometre down the rail lines before it could come to a halt around 3:40am.
The gateman of the level crossing was not there.
Of the deceased, nine died on the spot and two at Kaliganj Upazila Health Complex and Jessore Sadar Hospital a few hours later. Three people of a family were among the dead.
The bride, primary school teacher Jyotsna Rani, and the groom, high school teacher Taposh Kumar, were on a microbus.
One of the injured, Bhobesh, 55, whose daughter Trishna Rani died on the spot, gave a horrific account of the accident.
"We made around three kilometres from the bride's home and everyone was chatting with each other about the ceremony.
“As soon as the bus got on the level crossing, the train hit it,” he said, adding, "My daughter who sat next to me was flung out of her seat as the bus tilted … I cannot remember where she fell."
"I remember grabbing the armrest of my seat with both hands until it all stopped."
Bhobesh injured his arms and back.
Eyewitness Mostafizur Rahman said, "I heard the bang and got out of my home instantly only to see that the locomotive was pushing something forward."
"At first I could not guess what it was due to the darkness but I could hear screams. I ran towards the train as did many others and noticed that it was a bus which got hit and was being pushed forward. I saw several bodies drop by the lines and the bus was on its side."
Banya Rani, 35, her son Koushik Das, 8, her niece Trishna Rani, 30, Sanjay Kumar, 34, Sudhir Kumar Biswas, 40, Sujay Kumar, 34, Biplob Biswas, 25, Shobhon Dey, 25, Oyishee, 7, Subal Kumar Biswas, 45, and Ujjal Kumar Das, 15, were killed.
They are all from Phulahari village of Sailkupa upazila, reports our Jhenidah correspondent.
Rail communication between Khulna, Jessore and other districts were suspended for seven hours and resumed around 11:00am when a salvage train cleared the line, said Motabbar Ali, station master of Mobarakganj Railway Station.
The railway authorities suspended gatemen Humayan Kabir and Barobazar Railway Station Master Turki Ahmed for their alleged negligence in duty.
Both of them are missing and presumed on the run.
Fire fighters and police from local highway police camp and police station had rescued the injured and took them to hospitals with the help of locals.
The bus was rented for the wedding, said the officer-in-charge of Kaliganj Police Station.
A three-member probe body was formed, led by Additional District Commissioner Nasrin Jahan, to probe the accident. The probe body has been asked to submit its report within the next three days, said Jhenidah Deputy Commissioner Safiqul Islam.
The DC, Additional Superintendent of police Mohammad Hasanuzzaman, and ruling Awami League lawmaker of Jhenidah-4 constituency Anwarul Azim Anar visited the spot.