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Tragedy At Polgahawela -Dozens Dead as Train Hits Bus At Crossing!

As It Happens -By Periscope - For LankaWeb

Almost in a coincidental sequel to one of Japan's worst rail disasters two days ago, a horrendous train / bus collision at Polgahawela, Sri Lanka has so far taken the lives of 37 passengers travelling in a bus bound for Kandy from Colombo.The bus was packed to capacity with about a 100 passengersand is reported to have been driven negligently by the driver according to eyewitnesses. The driver had appparently attempted to race across the protected crossing with the train approaching and paid the penalty.The bus which was rammed from the rear, dragged for about 300 feet being virtually crushed and set ablaze on impact.The train despite the severity of the impact had no casualties by way of crew and passengers but the carnage on the bus was visibly apparent as some critically injured were transported to Colombo Hospitals and the death toll is expected to rise according to hospital officials.

The distraught train driver Mr.H.A.Sirisena a veteran of 41 years in service has reportedly told police that the green signal was on for the train and the barrier gates down when the collision ocurred which was eventually beyond his control as there was no time to bring the train to a halt as the errant bus driver surged across the crossing and mayhem followed.

There is a trend amongst bus drivers in Sri Lanka to take unmitigated risks in the manner they operate their vehicles putting harmless passengers at risk as the crash site bore testimony to the fact as clothing and luggage were strewn haplessly at the crash site.Private busses are notorious for this indiscretion which sadly has to do with timing and the picking up of passengers in an almost pirate like mentality towards outmanouvering the official transportation systems which are of circumspect questionability towards efficiency and passenger satisfaction.

The level crossings across trunk roads in most cases although protected have the new fangled alternate barrier concept which leaves one part of the crossing open as traffic often veers around the guarded section into the unguarded part granting access across the crossing and has seen many preventible accidents due to the negligence of the drivers as has reportedly been the case here.Both the driver and conductor of this bus have apparently escaped serious injury as the bus had been struck from behind. They have been apprehended by the police and taken into custody and face severe incarceration both privately and officially as deserving justice .

To worsen the perspective on the transportation system's woes in Sri Lanka, the Railways are in dire need of refurbishment as they continue to be a relic of the archaic British Administration of decades ago and there are many skepticisms and apprehensions about modern day rail travel in Sri Lanka where only the key routes benefitting tourists and the like have been upgraded and many others neglected and in dire need of repair albeit irrelevant to the present tragedy which has taken place on a key route from the capital Colombo to the central hill town of Kandy.


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