INDIA. Mumbai: The death toll from a tragic three-train collision at Balasore, Odisha on June 2, Friday, has reached 290, with over 800 people injured. A preliminary report suggests that the unprecedented accident occurred due to a signal failure.
According to KS Anand, the Chief Public Relations Officer of the South Eastern Railway, the initial findings indicate that the accident resulted from a signal failure. The Coromandel Express (No 12841) was intended to travel on the main line, but a signal was mistakenly given for the loop line, leading the train to collide with a parked goods train.
As a result, 21 coaches derailed, with three of them crossing onto an adjacent track where the Yeshwantpur-Howrah Express (12864) was simultaneously travelling. Consequently, the two rearmost coaches of the Yeshwantpur-Howrah Express also derailed.
Amitabh Sharma, the spokesperson for Indian Railways, mentioned that the anti-train collision system called “Kavach” was not available on the route, but efforts are underway to install the system.
In response to the incident, the railways have launched a high-level investigation led by A M Chowdhary, the Commissioner of Railway Safety, South Eastern Circle.
On Saturday night, Odisha government officials reported that nearly 1,175 people were admitted to various hospitals, of whom 793 were discharged and 382 were still undergoing treatment. Given the significant number of casualties, the Odisha Government has established a temporary morgue at the 40,000 square feet expo hall of the North Odisha Chamber of Commerce.
To provide support, the Indian Navy has established medical camps and is closely collaborating with the Odisha state administration. A team of 43 personnel, including surgical specialists, medical assistants, ambulances, and support services from INS Chilka, is currently attending to the injured individuals. Immediate medical relief and operation theatre facilities are being provided at the District HQ Hospital in Balasore, as stated in an official announcement.
Additionally, a naval medical relief team has set up a medical camp at “Gangadhar Kalyan Mandap” in Balasore to treat non-critical patients. The relief activities are being coordinated by the Naval Officer-in-Charge, Odisha, under the Eastern Naval Command, in close liaison with the Odisha State Administration.
The rescue operation was concluded on Saturday afternoon, and restoration work has commenced. Due to the disruption in traffic along the route, over 150 trains have been cancelled, diverted, or had their termini shortened.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the accident site, chaired a high-level meeting to assess the situation and engage in discussions. The meeting was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, NDRF DG, and senior railway officials.
Condolences have poured in from various world leaders. Russian President Vladimir Putin conveyed his sympathies to President of India Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing, “We share the grief of those who lost their loved ones in this tragic accident and wish a speedy recovery for those injured.”
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted, saying, “Deeply saddened by the loss of hundreds of lives in a train accident in India. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy. Prayers for a speedy recovery of the injured.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Qiang also sent messages of condolence to President Droupadi Murmu and PM Narendra Modi regarding the casualties caused by the train accident in Odisha.
Meanwhile, the Odisha government has established a helpline at 06782-262286. The railway helplines are 033-26382217 (Howrah), 8972073925 (Kharagpur), 8249591559 (Balasore), and 044-25330952 (Chennai). Additionally, the Southern Railway has set up a round-the-clock helpline and control office in Chennai. Commuters and relatives can contact the helpline and control office at 044-25330952, 044-25330953, and 044-25354771.