In a tragic incident, 12 women farm labourers and a driver of trolley autorickshaw were crushed to death after their vehicle was hit by the Rourkela-Bhubaneswar Intercity at Khairpali unmanned level crossing, about 6 km from here, on Friday.While 12 died on the spot, one succumbed at the hospital.
Six critically injured were rushed to VSS Medical at Burla while two others were convalescing at the district headquarters hospital. All the victims were from Ainlapali village under Dhanupali sadar police limit.
The autorickshaw was carrying the labourers from Ainlapali to Sindurpank for transplantation work when it got stuck on the railway track at the unmanned railway crossing. The auto driver had reportedly plugged his ears with headphone and was listening to songs. Although the labourers standing on the trolley raised an alarm, he ignored it and tried to cross over the track.
The train, coming at high speed, knocked and dragged the vehicle for about 800 metres. The wild growth on both sides of the track might have blocked his view as he could not see the train chugging along. Niru Bhoi, who survived the crash, said they alerted the driver, but he continued moving ahead. The relief and rescue team from Sambalpur rushed to the spot and removed the mangled autorickshaw stuck to the cattle guard. The impact of the collision was so high that the rail guard of the engine was also damaged.
Two hours later, once the bodies were removed and the track was cleared, the train left for its destination around 10.45 am. But locals held back one body and blocked the track for four hours demanding compensation for the family of the deceased and converting the level crossing into a manned one.
The Divisional Railway Manager, who reached the spot, said a proposal has been mooted for road under the bridge (RUB) for the unmanned level crossings. But he expressed helplessness on compensation, triggering resentment. The accident delayed the movement of the Up and Down Amritsar-Visakhapatnam besides Bhubaneswar-Balangir Intercity Express.