AT LEAST 17 people have been killed and 100 others injured in Bangladesh after two trains collided on Monday (23), with officials saying they fear the death toll will rise.
The crash in the eastern city of Bhairab saw a freight train smash into a passenger train travelling in the opposite direction, derailing two passenger carriages, officials said.
“We have recovered 17 bodies. More than 100 people were injured,” said Sadiqur Rahman, a government administrator in Bhairab, which lies around 60 kilometres (38 miles) northeast of the capital Dhaka.
“The death toll will rise,” Rahman said, with rescuers reporting they could still see bodies crushed and trapped under overturned coaches.
“A rescue train carrying cranes is on its way,” he said.
Local residents and volunteers rushed to the scene after the accident took place at around 4:00 pm local time (1000 GMT).
The crash occurred after one train entered the same line as the other, Rahman said.
Video footage broadcast by the private Channel 24 showed hundreds of people crowding the accident site with many in tears as they searched for relatives.
“We have rescued at least two people alive from the overturned coaches,” Nazmul Haque, a Red Crescent volunteer, told reporters.
Officials said fire service, police and the elite Rapid Action Battalion security force were at the crash site.
Bangladesh authorities have ordered two investigations into the accident, and appeals have been made for volunteers to donate blood.
Nazmul Islam, a general manager of the state-run Bangladesh Railway, which owns the train, told local media the freight train overshot its signal.
Train accidents are common in Bangladesh and are often caused by poor signalling, negligence, old tracks or other rundown infrastructure.