Trains derail, collide in Odisha accident; scores feared killed
A train crash near Balasore district in Odisha has resulted in the possible death of over 100 people and injured at least 300. The Chennai-bound Coromandel Express derailed, with several coaches falling onto the adjoining track, before being hit by the Howrah-bound Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express coming from the opposite direction. A goods train was also involved in the crash. Rescue operations are underway, with hundreds of rescuers, doctors and railway officials on the scene.
A horrific train crash near Balasore district in Odisha on Friday evening involving two packed express trains marked what could be the worst accident suffered by the public transporter in nearly a decade with officials on the ground fearing that the death toll could top 100, with at least another 300 rushed to hospitals.
Officials said 15 coaches of the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express derailed near Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore district around 6.55pm on Friday, with several of them falling on the adjoining track. Around five minutes later, the Howrah-bound Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express coming from the other direction rammed into the derailed compartments. A goods train was also involved in the crash, officials said.
The Odisha government pressed hundreds of rescuers and doctors into action even as railway officials rushed to the site. As evening fell, disaster relief personnel were seen cutting into heaps of mangled metal to rescue passengers trapped under broken seats and crushed coaches.
Bahanaga Bazar railway station is about 180km from Bhubaneswar.
“Distressed by the train accident in Odisha. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. Spoke to the railway minister and took stock of the situation. Rescue ops are underway at the site of the mishap and all possible assistance is being given to those affected,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Though no official numbers were released till the time of going to print, Odisha officials said the toll may have already crossed 100 around midnight, and feared it could rise further.
Local news networks put the toll between 70 and 100.
The Coromandel Express – considered the main train link between Kolkata and Chennai – bore the brunt of the impact, officials said, adding that it has a passenger capacity of 1,516. Many of those who died and were injured were from Bengal, including a large group of migrant labourers.
“Our focus is now to rescue those trapped inside the upturned coaches. As it is night time, we have got artificial lights to help the rescue,” said special relief commissioner of Odisha, Satyabrata Sahu.
Odisha chief secretary Pradeep Jena said more than 300 people were injured.
“Ex-gratia compensation to the victims of this unfortunate train accident in Odisha. ₹10 Lakh in case of death. ₹2 Lakh towards grievous and ₹50,000 for minor injuries,” railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw tweeted.
A statement from the Indian Railways read, “ Train no. 12841 Shalimar-Chennai Coromandal Express and Train no. 12864 Bengaluru – Howrah Superfast Express derailed near Bahanaga Bazar Railway station at around 18.55 Hrs. Immediately Accident Relief train, Self-Propelled Accident Relief Medical Vans (SPARME), accident relief train (ART) was ordered from Kharagpur, Balasore and Santragachi.”
Speaking to HT, a senior railway official said, “There is a lot of chaos at the site. An independent enquiry as well as a commission of railways safety (CRS) probe will be launched to investigate the cause of the accident.”