Train Crash: PM promises stringent action against guilty; death toll mounts to 288
STATE TIMES NEWS
Balasore/Bhubaneswar: Investigators were on Saturday looking into any human error, signal failure and other possible causes behind the three-train crash in Odisha’s Balasore district as officials submitted a preliminary inquiry report into the worst rail accident in India in nearly three decades that left at least 288 people dead and over 1,100 injured.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the accident site and was briefed by Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw as well as officers of the disaster management teams. He also met some of the injured in the hospital.
“I do not have words to express my pain… No one would be spared and strong action would be taken against those found guilty. Instructions have been given to ensure proper and speedy investigation of the tragedy,” Modi said, adding that more focus will be given to the security of rail passengers.
The crash involving Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, which were carrying around 2,000 passengers, and a goods train occurred around 7 PM on Friday near the Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore, about 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar.
Seventeen coaches were derailed and severely damaged in the accident, trapping hundreds of passengers. Both passenger trains were at a high speed and it has been cited by experts as one of the main reasons for the high number of casualties.
From a vantage point high above the ground, the disaster site looked as if a powerful whirlwind had thrown the coaches like toys on top of each other. Closer to the ground, bloodied, disfigured bodies and dismembered body parts lay enmeshed, creating a grotesque sight.
Large cranes were deployed to move the wreckage and gas cutters were used to extricate the bodies from the mangled, toppled coaches.
The rescue operation was wrapped up Saturday afternoon and restoration work started. The injured were admitted to four hospitals.
Preliminary investigations have revealed that a signal was given to Coromandel Express to enter the main line but it was taken off and the train entered the loop line, where it crashed into a goods train parked there. The Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express which was coming at high speed crashed into the coaches of Coromandel Express that had scattered on the adjacent track. Citing reports till Saturday evening, officials said 288 people were killed in the accident. As many as 1,175 people were admitted at various hospitals, including private ones, out of which 793 have been released and 382 were undergoing treatment, Odisha government officials said at around 8 PM Saturday. All except two patients are stable, they said.
Bar Association Rajouri and Judicial Employees Welfare Association Rajouri jointly have expressed condolence over the death of passengers in tragic accident which took place in Odisha. A two minute silence was observed and every one prayed for departed soul and early recovery for injured victims.
Senior Citizens’ Club (Regd) Udhampur (SCCU) also paid tribute to those who lost their life in yesterday’s train accident at Balasore (Orissa) by organizing a program at Club House Shivnagar Udhampur.