Rail minister Ashwini Vaishnaw orders high-level probe into Odisha train tragedy

Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw
Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw speaks with the media at the site where Coromandel Express, Bengaluru-Howrah Express and a goods train derailed, in Balasore district. Photo: PTI

Balasore: Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Saturday visited the train accident site in Odisha's Balasore in which nearly 288 people were killed and about 900 were injured as the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and a goods train crashed into each other after one of the passenger trains went off the tracks.

Vaishnaw said the main focus at present is on rescue and relief operations.

"A M Chowdhary, Commissioner of Railway Safety, South East Circle, will inquire into the accident," a railway spokesperson said.

The cause of the train accident in Odisha will be known after the Commissioner of Railway Safety submits his report, he said.

“It's a big tragic accident. Railway, NDRF, SDRF, and State govt are conducting the rescue operation. Best possible healthcare facilities will be provided. Compensation was announced yesterday,” said the railway minister.

Wielding gas torches and electric cutters, rescuers worked through the night to pull out survivors and the dead from the mangled steel of three trains that derailed one on top of another in a horrific sequence in Balasore district, officials and witnesses said Saturday.

Officials in Bhubaneswar said 200 ambulances, 50 buses and 45 mobile health units were working at the accident site, besides 1,200 personnel. The bodies were being taken to the hospitals in all kinds of vehicles, including tractors.

The train crash, the fourth deadliest in India according to available records, 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.

Several coaches of the 12864 Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, on the way to Howrah, derailed and fell on adjacent tracks, an official said.

"These derailed coaches collided with the 12841 Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and its coaches capsized too," he said.

A goods train was also involved in the accident as some of the coaches of the Coromandel Express, which was heading to Chennai, hit its wagons after getting derailed, he added.

(With PTI inputs)

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