At least 10 people of a bridal party died, including the bride and groom, when a train hit a microbus on an unauthorised level crossing at Salap station area under Ullapara upazila in Sirajganj on Monday.

Dhaka-bound Padma Express hit the microbus carrying the bridal party while it was trying to cross the level crossing besides Panchacroshi Ali Ahmed High School adjacent to Salap station around 6:30pm.

While there were seven men, two women and a child among the victims killed on the spot, at least three others were injured in the incident, witnesses said.

The groom and bride were identified as Rajan Hossain, 22, son of Altaf Hossain from Kandapara village under Sirajganj district sadar and Sumaiya Khatun, 18, daughter of late Abdul Gafur, from Char Ghatina under Ullapara upazila.

The other victims killed on the spot included Bhashan Sheikh, 55, son of late Mahir Uddin, Nur Alam, 35, Alik, 10, maternal cousin of the bride, driver Shadhin, 30, son of Mantu Sheikh, Abdus Samad, 50, son of Abdul Mati, Samad’s wife Hawa Begum, 45, and their son Shakil, 20.

Abdul Ahad, 25, son of Suramnat Ali, died in the hospital after he was brought in with two other critically injured victims, said Dr Rokonuzzaman of the emergency department of the hospital. 

Meanwhile, Mantu Sheikh, father of Sumon Sheikh, suffered a cardiac arrest at Sirajganj Sadar Hospital, after witnessing his son’s critical condition. He was now under treatment at the hospital while his son was sent to Dhaka, Dr Rokonuzzaman added.  

Following the accident, Padma Express got delayed for one and a half hours at the spot of the accident, affecting train communication on the Rajshahi-Khulna route. 

Witnesses said that two microbuses were on the way to Kandapara under Sirajganj district sadar from Ghatina under Ullapara carrying the groom, the bride and other relatives.

During the collision, around six train passengers fell off the train and sustained injuries, according to witnesses.

Ullapara police inspector (investigation) Md Golam Mostafa said that the microbus was dragged by train before the latter finally came to a halt.

The accident took place on an unauthorised level crossing which had no barriers or gateman, he added.

Sirajganj railway police officer-in-charge Harun Majumder and Fire Service’s assistant deputy director Abdul Hamid also confirmed that the level crossing was unauthorised.

Among the injured four were rushed to Sirajganj Sadar Hospital and the bodies were kept at Salap station area, they confirmed.

Bangladesh Railway’s Paksey divisional railway manager Mizanur Rahman said that the locals built the unauthorised level crossing for their own advantage.

The officer also alleged that after the incident agitated locals tried to damage the train while the police and fire service personnel had to calm them down.

Fatal accidents at level crossings are frequent in the country while experts cite the large number of unauthorised, unguarded level crossings as one of the major reasons behind these accidents.

Accidents at level crossings are often caused by lack of monitoring by the authorities concerned as well as impatience and unawareness on the part of the common people.

According to the railway there are around 3,000 level crossings in the country, out of which more than 1,000 are unauthorised, while only about 19 per cent of them have gatemen.

According to a survey conducted by Accident Research Institute of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, the number of level crossing accidents was 232, with 242 people killed and 227 injured in 2018.

In 2017, a total of 229 people were killed and 156 injured in 211 level crossing accidents, the survey added.

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