ISLAMABAD: At least 288 people were killed and over 900 people were injured in an accident involving three trains in Odisha’s Balasore, DGP Fire Service Sudhanshu Sarangi told India Today. What we know so far is that two passenger trains – Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express – and a goods train were involved in an accident that was triggered by a derailment.
The rescue operation has completed at the derailment site and restoration work has commenced, the Ministry of Railways said in a tweet.
“Around 900 injured passengers are being treated at several hospitals in Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Cuttack districts,” Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena said.
“The identified bodies are either being handed over to their relatives or transported to their respective destinations after autopsy. Statutory procedure will be followed for the unidentified ones,” he added.
The train crash, one of the deadliest in India in recent times, happened near the Bahanaga Baazar station in Balasore district, about 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar, around 7 pm on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a high-level meeting to review the situation in connection with the tragic train accident in Odisha, sources in the government told the newspaper.
The prime minister will go to Odisha today. First, he will visit the site of the accident in Balasore and then he will visit the Hospital in Cuttack, sources told an Indian newspaper.
It is one of the deadliest train crashes in the history of the Indian Railways.
The Army was also roped in to assist the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), several fire units and ambulances in the rescue operation. Army medical and engineering teams with ambulances and support services have been deployed from the Eastern command. The teams were routed from multiple bases so as to reach the place of incident as early as possible.
About 200 ambulances and 45 mobile health teams have been deployed for rescue operations. Apart from that, about 50 additional doctors have also been mobilized. Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw reached the accident spot in Balasore this morning and took stock of the situation. The Army joined in and the Air Force positioned MI-17 helicopters for relief and rescue operations.
“The situation is under control. The search and rescue operations are being carried out,” Odisha Health Minister Niranjan Pujari told PTI.
“Our focus is on rescue and relief operations. Restoration will begin after clearance from district administration. A detailed high-level inquiry will be conducted and the rail safety commissioner will also do an independent inquiry, “Ashwini Vaishnaw told ANI. The cause of the train accident in Odisha will be known after the Commissioner of Railway Safety submits his report, he said.
Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik also visited the site of the horrific site and took stock of the situation in Balasore. The chief minister also visited the Balasore district hospital to meet the injured victims.
“I have to thank the local people, local teams who have worked overnight. Railways safety should always be given the first preference. The people have been taken to hospital,” CM Naveen Patnaik said.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has cut short his visit to Kolkata in West Bengal and has left for Balasore in Odisha. He is expected to reach the spot in a few hours.