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Sunday, June 4, 2023

Odisha train accident updates | Restoration work continues into the night as death toll climbs to 288

Preliminary probe says signal was given and taken off for Coromandel Express; PM Modi visits derailment site

Odisha train accident updates | Restoration work continues into the night as death toll climbs to 288
Odisha train accident updates

The toll in the Friday evening train accident at Bahanaga Bazar railway station of Odisha’s Balasore district rose sharply to 288 on Saturday, while 1,091 injured persons h onave been provided medical assistance. Of the injured, 56 were stated to be grievously wounded.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visited the spot to take stock of the accident — dubbed as one of the most tragic accidents in the country.

A preliminary investigation by a team of railway officials has revealed that signal was given and then taken off for Coromandel Express which entered the Loop Line and collided with the goods train.

Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express (12841) took a wrong track instead of the main line at the Bahanaga Bazaar station in Balasore district of Odisha and crashed into a goods train stationed there. Coromandel Express was going at full speed as it was not supposed to stop at the station. In the impact, 21 coaches derailed and three of them jumped onto an adjacent track, through which the Yeshwantpur-Howrah Express (12864) was travelling at the same time. The two rearmost coaches of the Yeshwantpur-Howrah Express also derailed.

The Odisha government has issued the helpline 06782-262286. The railway helplines are 033-26382217 (Howrah), 8972073925 (Kharagpur), 8249591559 (Balasore) and 044- 25330952 (Chennai).

Southern Railway has set up a round-the-clock helpline and control office at Chennai. A press release said, commuters and relatives could contact the helpline and control office at 044-25330952, 044-25330953, and 044-25354771.

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Odisha government has issued the helpline 06782-262286. Railway helplines are 033-26382217 (Howrah), 8972073925 (Kharagpur), 8249591559 (Balasore) and 044- 25330952 (Chennai).

 “The number of casualties in Friday’s railway accident has increased to 261. Another 650 injured passengers are being treated at various hospitals in Odisha,” SER spokesperson Aditya Chowdhury said.

An enquiry into the accident will be held by the commissioner of railway safety (CRS), South Eastern circle, the official said.

The accident took place at around 7 p.m. when two coaches of 12864 (SMVB-HWH) Yashwantpur-Howrah Express derailed near Bahanaga Railway station in Balasore district. The derailed coaches tossed over to the adjoining track and hit the speeding 12841 Coromandal Express coming from the opposite direction. It led to derailment of about 17 bogies.

The Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express, a long-distance train connecting West Bengal with Tamil Nadu had left Shalimar station earlier in the day. Its passengers comprise mostly residents of West Bengal who visit Tamil Nadu either for work or availing better healthcare facilities.

The rail accident is being described as one of the worst in recent times. In 2013, the Coramandel Express had met with an accident in Jajpur district of Odisha which is about 50 km away from the present accident site.

Though the Odisha government had deployed dozens of teams under supervision of more than 10 senior Secretaries and a Minister, chaos prevailed at the accident site as well as at healthcare centres. The State government had mobilised doctors from all neighbouring districts as well as premier medical colleges.

The doctors seemed overwhelmed managing the crisis as patients poured in with every minute. The constant blaring of the ambulances kept the locals awake at night while hundreds of locals jumped into the rescue operation. People from nearby villages ran to the accident sites as first responders. People were seen queuing up to donate blood. Over 115 ambulances were pressed into services for evacuation of seriously injured patients.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a tweet, expressed grief over the accident along with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The Odisha CM, speaking to reporters, said he will be visiting the site on Saturday morning.

“Deeply anguished to know about the loss of lives in an unfortunate rail accident in Balasore. My heart goes out to the bereaved families. I pray for the success of rescue operations and quick recovery of the injured,” President Droupadi Murmu tweeted.

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