The accident happened at unmanned level crossing

Five persons were killed and 12 others sustained injuries when a mini-bus was hit by a train at an unmanned level crossing on the Narashimanaickenpalayam to Idigarai road on the Coimbatore–Mettuppalayam section on Friday.

According to police, a private mini-bus with more than 20 passengers was on its way from Thudialur via Periyanaickenpalayam to Idigarai about 28 km from Coimbatore. At 4:50 p.m., the Mettuppalayam – Coimbatore Special train ran into it.

The bus driver was unaware of the time at which the train would cross the level crossing, as the service was introduced only on June 1.The injured were rushed to hospitals in Periyanaickenpalayam, Thudialur and Coimbatore. Police said three of the dead had been identified as Uthara (18), Madankumar (15) and Jagadeeswaran (12). Two bodies are yet to be identified. Four persons are undergoing treatment at Periyanaickenpalayam and eight have been admitted to CMC Hospital. The bus was dragged for nearly 150 m from the level crossing.

According to eyewitness accounts and the police quoting the injured passengers, the bus driver noticed the train only after getting into the level crossing area. The vehicle got stranded at the crossing as the driver panicked and the engine stopped.

The driver, who had joined service only recently, is said to have jumped off the bus and escaped.

The train pushed the bus to a track-side gorge and stopped, but only after the engine and three of its coaches crossed the level crossing. Divisional Railway Manager, P.N. Ram visited the accident site.

Superintendent of Police A. Arun supervised the rescue and relief operations. Union Minister for Information and Telecommunications, A. Raja, State Minister for Rural Industries and Animal Husbandry Pongalur N Palanisamy, District Collector P. Umanath called on the injured at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital and visited the accident site. The train was delayed by 90 minutes.

Solatium

Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has ordered a solatium of Rs 1 lakh each to the families of the five persons who died in the accident. Expressing condolences to the grieving families, Mr. Karunanidhi also ordered a solatium of Rs. 25,000 each to the injured persons recuperating in hospitals.