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Odisha train tragedy: 288 dead, 803 injured

Updated on: 04 June,2023 08:13 AM IST  |  Balasore
Agencies |

Said to be one of the deadliest rail crashes in more than 20 years, train accident shocks nation, world; aviation ministry instructs airlines to not raise fares as families fly in

Odisha train tragedy: 288 dead, 803 injured

NDRF personnel carry the recovered bodies of passengers in the Odisha train accident, at Bahanaga railway station of Balasore district in Odisha on Saturday. More than 300 NDRF rescuers are working at the site

A “mistaken” signal is likely to be the reason the Coromandel Express diverted to the line where the goods train was parked. The estimated death toll of the crash was around 288 people, at the time of going to press.

The Balasore district hospital and Soro hospital where the injured have been rushed, are bursting at their seams, with patients spilling onto corridors. A large number of youth donated around 500 units of blood. The morgues at the hospitals were a pile of white shrouded bodies, many of them yet to be identified.

Cranes used to recover victims’ bodies from a carriage wreckage of a three-train collision near Balasore. PICS/PTI
Cranes used to recover victims’ bodies from a carriage wreckage of a three-train collision near Balasore. PICS/PTI

While speaking to news agency, Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that he has ordered a probe into the Odisha train accident. “I have given out an order to conduct a high-level probe to find out why this accident happened…it is important to get to the root cause,” he said. 

Railway officials said it is also not yet clear if Coromandel Express entered the loop line and hit the stationary goods train or it first derailed and then hit the parked train. Another reason is the unfortunate timing of the second passenger train, which came at a very high speed.

More than 300 NDRF rescuers are working at the train accident site.  The main task of the force is to look for and rescue the victims who are still alive. The Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed Mi-17 helicopters for the evacuation of the deceased and injured.

Wounded survivor rescued from the train crash wreckage
Wounded survivor rescued from the train crash wreckage

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ordered state mourning for a day. Consequently, no state celebration shall be held on June 3 throughout the state. The Ministry of Civil Aviation asked airlines to monitor and take necessary action in case of any abnormal surge in airfares to and from Bhubaneswar. Besides, the ministry said that any cancellation and rescheduling on flights due to the incident may be done without penal charges.

250 arrive in Chennai on spl train

As many as 250 passengers who survived the train crash in Odisha went to Chennai on a special train, a railway official said on Saturday. Train number P/13671 started from Bhadrak towards Chennai carrying the stranded passengers from the accident site at Bahanaga Bazaar, and it was scheduled to arrive at Vijayawada by 9.30 pm. Three passengers of the train crash claim the number of deaths in the accident at Balasore is likely to be much higher than known now, as the unreserved compartments were packed, carrying mostly migrant workers to Tamil Nadu or Kerala. Nagendran, who works in Kolkata and hails from Ramanathapuram, said, “The second the accident happened I thought I was going to die.” The sleeper and general cars were the worst affected.

PM Modi promises swift action

Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes stock of the situation at the site of the accident involving Coromandel Express, Bengaluru-Howrah Express and a goods train, in Balasore district
Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes stock of the situation at the site of the accident involving Coromandel Express, Bengaluru-Howrah Express and a goods train, in Balasore district 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inspected the accident site to take stock of relief operations. He was accompanied by Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, and Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, and was briefed on the situation. PM Modi asked the ministers to ensure all help needed is provided to the injured and their families. He stressed that grieving families should not face any inconvenience. He also added that directions have been given to probe the train accident, and that whoever is found guilty will not be spared.

What do ministers have to say?

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the triple train accident in Odisha's Balasore district was the “biggest of the century” and a proper investigation was needed to unravel the truth. Banerjee, who has been the Railway minister twice, said the crash could have been averted had the anti-collision system been operational on this route. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar demanded an inquiry and resignation of the Railway Minister.

Where was Kavach?

The incident has brought the railways’ automatic train protection system Kavach into focus. The railways has said that Kavach was not available on the route where the accident occurred on Friday evening. Indian Railways has developed its own automatic train protection system for enhancing safety of running trains. It has been developed indigenously by the Research Design and Standards Organisation in association with three Indian vendors. It will not only aid loco pilot to avoid signal passing and danger due to over-speeding, but also help in train running during inclement weather such as dense fog. 

Tweet talk

Justin Trudeau@JustinTrudeau: The images and reports of the train crash in Odisha, India break my heart. I'm sending my deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones, and I'm keeping the injured in my thoughts. At this difficult time, Canadians are standing with the people of India

Rishi Sunak@RishiSunak: My thoughts and prayers are with @narendramodi and with all affected by the tragic events in Odisha. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of those killed, and my heartfelt support and admiration to the survivors and those working tirelessly to respond

Aug ’95
Said to be the last deadliest crash when two trains collided near New Delhi, killing 358

Rs 10L
Amount given to family of deceased

Speed of The Coromandel Express when it collided with a stationary freight train causing it to derail

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