On This Day in History: June 6, 1981 — Passenger train plunges into Baghmati River in Bihar killing more than 500 people

On this day, June 6, 1981, India witnessed one of its most dangerous train accidents. More than 500 passengers were killed when a train fell into a river in Bihar. A passenger train travelling between Mansi (Dhamara Pul) and Saharsa fell into Baghmati river of Bihar, killing more than 500 people.

The nine-car train was filled with about 1000 passengers.  The actual reason of the accident is unknown but reports suggest that the train engineer applied brakes too hard to avoid hitting a cow, which was crossing the bridge over the river. The outside weather had monsoon-like conditions and heavy rains were making the track slippery.

While trying to avoid hitting the cow at all costs, the engineer applied the brakes too hard and the train derailed on the wet tracks. Seven cars of the train fell straight into the river. Since the water levels of the river were far above normal due to rains, the cars sank quickly into the river. After five days, about 286 dead bodies were found while 300 missing people were never found. The estimates of the total deaths range between 500-800 people. The tragedy is the worst train accident ever recorded in the 20th century.

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