2013 Chapramari Forest train accident

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Chapramari Forest train accident
Details
Date13 November 2013
Time17:40
LocationChapramari Wildlife Sanctuary, Jalpaiguri district, West Bengal
Country India
Causespeeding
Statistics
TrainsKavi Guru Express
Deaths5 adult and 2 calf elephants
Injuries10 elephants

The 2013 Chapramari Forest train accident occurred on 13 November 2013 in the eastern area of the Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary, Jalpaiguri district, West Bengal.[1][2]

The accident killed or injured 17 Indian elephants and has been described as the worst of its kind in recent history.[2][3][4]

Background[edit]

The Wildlife Protection Society of India reported that 20 elephants were killed in 2007.[5] In 2013, the tally on the Chapramari track, specifically, reached 17 including those killed by the 13 November accident.[6]

The number of wild elephants in all of India is thought to be about 26,000.[7][8]

Accident[edit]

At approximately 17:40 on 13 November, an Assam-bound passenger train travelling through the Chapramari Forest, Jaipur-Kamakhya Kavi Guru Express (19709), approached the Jaldhaka River Bridge at ~80 km/h and collided with a herd of 40–50 Indian elephants, killing five adults and two calves and injuring ten others.[1][9][10]

Surviving elephants fled but soon returned to the scene of the accident and remained there until being dispersed by officials.[10]

Aftermath[edit]

Additional Divisional Railway Manager B. Lakra stated, "We have heard of the accident. All necessary actions are being taken. Special relief train has been sent and all Assam bound trains are being deviated through alternate route."[1] The track was reopened for service after 12 hours.[7] A meeting to discuss future prevention was held between forest and railway officials on 14 November.[11]

According to a telephone interview of Jalpaiguri divisional forest officer Bidyut Sarkar conducted by The New York Times, "one female elephant, whose leg was fractured by the train and was unable to stand, fell into a ravine below the track, unreachable by cranes or trucks, so veterinarians descended and set up a camp near her to provide treatment".[7] The remains of one elephant were caught up in the structure of the bridge and necessitated disintegration for removal.[7][12]

Some injured elephants remain in critical condition.[3]

Jalpaiguri protest[edit]

A protest seeking better regulation for trains passing through the wildlife sanctuary occurred on 14 November in Jalpaiguri.[13][14] In an unrelated statement by West Bengal's forest minister, Hiten Burman, it was noted that official requests to a similar effect have been disregarded by railway authorities in the past.[10]

Repercussions[edit]

The accident reignited discussion over the history and administration of the 168 km track, which spans New Jalpaiguri to Alipurduar and also passes through Buxa Tiger Reserve.[1] Animesh Basu, a coordinator for the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation, criticised the government's response to the issue of its national heritage animal being frequently hit by trains, highlighting the irony of Indian Railways' use of an elephant calf as its mascot.[12]

Electric fencing, stationary lighting, and motion sensors have each been proposed as technical measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.[15]

Investigation[edit]

Officials plan to launch an investigation into the causes of the accident.[16] Speeding is suspected as a possible contributing factor.[11][16] The train was traveling at 80 km/h and guidelines specify a limit of 40 km/h.[17]

Reaction[edit]

Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury stated that the accident "happened outside the area which has been earmarked as elephant corridor" and that it "is the responsibility of the state government to protect the wildlife [because] railway officials cannot".[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Sarkar, Debasis (13 November 2013). "'Railways Killer track' again kills 7 elephants in West Bengal". The Economic Times. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b Withnall, Adam (14 November 2013). "Speeding train kills at least seven elephants and injures 10 others in India". The Independent. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b Banerjee, Manik (14 November 2013). "Train Mows Down, Kills 7 Elephants in East India". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Elephant death toll rises to seven". Press Trust of India. The New Indian Express. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  5. ^ Abad-Santos, Alexander (14 November 2013). "Elephants In India Keep Getting Killed by Trains". The Atlantic Wire. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  6. ^ Poareo, Juana (14 November 2013). "Elephants in India Struck and Killed in Train Collision". Las Vegas Guardian Express. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d Kumar, Hari; Barry, Ellen (14 November 2013). "Train in India Hits Elephants Crossing Track". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  8. ^ Thornhill, Ted (14 November 2013). "Seven elephants including two calves killed after passenger train plows into a herd of 40 in India". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  9. ^ "19709/Jaipur-Kamakhya Kavi Guru Express". India Rail Info. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  10. ^ a b c Banerjee, Manik (14 November 2013). "India Train Crash Kills 7 Elephants". Huffington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Overspeeding trains ran over elephants: Bengal minister". Press Trust of India. First Post. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Elephants Killed As Train Slams into Herd". Sky News. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  13. ^ "Jalpaiguri: Locals block track over jumbo deaths, carcasses being removed". First Post. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Locals block track over 6 elephant deaths in Bengal, carcasses being removed". The Times of India. Press Trust of India. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  15. ^ a b Dinda, Archisman (14 November 2013). "Blame game over elephant death in West Bengal". Gulf News. Al Nisr Publishing. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  16. ^ a b "6 elephants killed by train in India's West Bengal state". United Press International. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  17. ^ Ghosh, Shubham (14 November 2013). "Train rams into elephant herd in North Bengal, 7 jumbos killed". One India. Retrieved 15 November 2013.