The Central Government has announced an ex-gratia compensation for victims in the train mishap in West Bengal's Darjeeling involving the Kanchenjunga Express passenger train and a goods train in which at least eight people were killed and over 20 people sustained injuries.

“Families of the deceased will be provided ₹10 lakh each, while a sum of ₹2.5 lakh and ₹50,000 will be provided to those who sustained grievous and minor injuries, respectively,” said Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

The Loco pilot of the goods train and the guard of the passenger train were among those who died, a railway official said.

“Death toll is 8. A special train left from there (accident site to Sealdah) at 12:40 hours. Most of the passengers are from Malda and Bolpur. Most of the passengers are safe,” Kaushik Mitra, Chief PRO, Eastern Railway told ANI.

The tragic collision between the Kanchanjunga Express train and the goods train took place because the loco pilot of the goods train “disregarded the signal,” Jaya Varma Sinha, the Chairman and CEO of Railway Board, said.

”The accident happened this morning. Kanchenjunga Express was travelling from Agartala to Sealdah. The train was hit in the rear end by a goods train, which disregarded the signal,” Jaya Varma Sinha told ANI.

The accident took place at Ruidhasa near Rangapani station in the Katihar Railway Division ahead of New Jalpaiguri Junction at around 8.45 am today. The area falls in the Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district.

Kanchanjungha Express — which runs between Silchar in Assam to Sealdah in Kolkata — was on its way from Agartala in Tripura to Sealdah when the goods train hit it from behind, according to Sabyasachi De, Chief Public Relations Officer - Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

Visuals from the site showed one of the bogies suspended in mid-air. Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), police and army were involved in the rescue operation.

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that there would be many passengers from Assam on the train and he remained concerned about them. “I have spoken to the Railway minister regarding the accident. The train was from Tripura & passes through Assam. There will be many passengers from Assam. We remain concerned about the passengers...Whatever needs to be done will be done,” Sarma told reporters.