By Editor-June 3rd,2023
At least 280 people have been killed and more than 1,000 are injured in a crash involving three trains in India’s eastern Odisha state. Rescue operations involved 200 ambulances.
One passenger train derailed when it collided with a goods train, with carriages falling on to the adjacent track. It was struck by an incoming train on Friday, also hitting a nearby stationary freight train.
A massive recovery operation is under way, after hundreds of emergency workers searched the wreckage.
The cause of India’s worst train crash in over 20 years is not yet clear.
Officials say several carriages from the Coromandel Express, travelling between Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and Chennai (formerly Madras), derailed at about 19:00 (13:30 GMT) in Balasore district after hitting a stationary goods train. Several of its coaches ended up on the opposite track.
Another train travelling in the opposite direction – the Howrah Superfast Express travelling from Yesvantpur to Howrah – then hit the overturned carriages.
“The force with which the trains collided has resulted in several coaches being crushed and mangled,” Atul Karwal, chief of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) told ANI news agency.
More than 200 ambulances and hundreds of doctors, nurses and rescue personnel were sent to the scene, the state’s chief secretary Pradeep Jena said.
Sudhanshu Sarangi, director general of Odisha Fire Services, had earlier said 288 had died.
All trapped and injured passengers have been rescued. It is not clear how serious the injuries of those taken to hospitals were.
Work to restore the site of the crash begun, India’s South Eastern Railway company said on Saturday.
What caused the accident?
At this stage nothing is certain, but the Hindustan Times reports that human error in the local signaling box is suspected, stating that initial reports suggest human error is likely behind the deadly train mishap.
Video of the signalling control room shows the Coromandel Express was diverted onto a loop line where the goods train was parked instead of the main line. The Coromandel Express collided with the goods train and derailed onto the main line. At the time of the collision, the Coromandel Express was travelling at a speed of 127 kilometres per hour. A few minutes later the Howrah-bound Yashwantnagar Express, coming from the opposite direction, collided with the wrecked Coromandel Express.
A more detailed enquiry is expected.