Odisha train accident: 288 killed, 17 coaches derailed; CM met the injured, PM reaching today

Odisha Coromandel Train Accident News Live: The death toll in the Odisha train accident has risen to 288 as India grapples with one of its worst rail accidents, state Revenue Minister Pramila Mallick told on Saturday morning, adding that Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav is on the spot. Arrived at Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also left for Balasore.

“It is a big tragic accident. Railways, NDRF, SDRF and the state government are carrying out rescue operations. Best possible health facilities will be provided. The compensation was announced yesterday. A high-level committee will be set up to look into it,” Vaishnav said.

The accident took place on Friday evening when three trains collided with each other in a horrific sequence in Odisha’s Balasore district. Initially there was news of death of 50 people. However, the death toll soon rose to over 200 and over 1,000 were injured.

The Balasore train accident has set off a massive rescue and evacuation process, railway officials said, adding that the common bogie was the worst affected as it was “partially buried in the ground along with another coach above it”.

An official said cranes may be required to lift the coaches and evacuate the people. Since General Bogi is the worst affected, it is clear that the people who died were poor. The official said they could include those who go to the south as laborers.

In such a situation, identifying the dead can be a challenge as many people may have been traveling without tickets. Most of the people who were in the S1 coach were migrant workers.

The train accident happened near Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore district, about 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar, around 7 pm on Friday, following which the Railway Ministry ordered an inquiry.

Indian Railways said in a statement that the train accident will be investigated by A M Choudhary, Commissioner Railway Safety, South East Circle. The Commissioner Railway Safety comes under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Enroute Howrah, several coaches of the 12864 Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express derailed and fell on the adjacent tracks, an official said. “These derailed coaches collided with 12841 Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and its coaches also overturned,” he said.

He said a goods train was also involved in the accident as some coaches of the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express collided with its coaches after the derailment. Gas cutters were used to retrieve the bodies from under the derailed coaches. One traveler said, “Some of the scenes at the site were too terrifying to describe.”

The railway tracks at the spot were almost destroyed as the damaged coaches were scattered all around, some of which rammed into the other, while some overturned due to the collision. Piyush Poddar, a resident of Berhampur in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district, was on his way to Tamil Nadu on the Coromandel Express to join work when the accident took place.

“We got a jolt and suddenly the bogie of the train turned to one side. Many of us were thrown out of the compartment at the speed of the derailment. When we managed to crawl out, we found bodies lying all around,” he said.

Officials in Bhubaneswar said 115 ambulances, 50 buses and 45 mobile health units were working at the accident site, in addition to 1,200 personnel. The dead bodies were being taken to the hospital by all types of vehicles including tractors.

Locals said that they heard continuous rumbling noises, following which they rushed to the spot and found the derailed coaches, which were nothing but “mutilated piles of steel”.

Rupam Banerjee, one of the passengers, told reporters, “The local people really came forward to help us… They not only helped evacuate people but also retrieved our belongings and gave us water.”

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declared a day’s state mourning on Saturday in the wake of the deadly triple train accident. State Special Relief Commissioner Satyavrat Sahu said that those injured in the accident are undergoing treatment in various hospitals.