Relief teams reached Sainthia late by road: PC | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Relief teams reached Sainthia late by road: PC

Home Minister P Chidambaram said relief teams reached the site of the train accident in West Bengal several hours late as they had to travel a long distance by road and suggested the use of helicopters and small planes.

delhi Updated: Jul 21, 2010 18:26 IST

Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said relief teams reached the site of the train accident in West Bengal several hours late as they had to travel a long distance by road and suggested the use of helicopters and small planes.

Addressing a meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in New Delhi, Chidmabaram said he was told that the first batch of three National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams could leave their base only two-and-a-half hours after the accident that occurred at around 2 am.

The second batch of two teams could leave only seven hours late, Chidambaram said adding that the relief teams had to drive 220 km.

"So we need to increase our capacity to be able to move disaster relief teams quickly, which means perhaps helicopters and small planes. All this would cost money," he said.

Sixty-three people were killed and over 150 people injured early Monday when the engine of the Uttar Banga Express ploughed through three compartments of the stationary Vananchal Express at Sainthia station in West Bengal's Birbhum district.

Chidambaram said that in the past one-and-a-half years, the capacity to deal with natural disasters like floods, cyclone and fires have "vastly improved". "But there are some other cases (accidents), I think our response should be better."

"More lives are being saved, more relief and aid are being rushed to the affected people" in the recent past, he said.

In case of natural disasters, the situation has been brought under control within a few days, he said. "I compliment the NDMA and the NDRF for this improvement," Chidambaram said.

A home ministry spokesperson, meanwhile, said Chidambaram had not criticised the railway ministry for any delay in relief operations but was only pointing out that the NDRF teams arrived late because of their journey by road.

The spokesperson said there was "no basis" for politicising the issue.