Odisha train accident: CBI registers case as team reaches Balasore for probe
On Sunday, union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the railway board sought a CBI probe into the accident over suspicions of a possible sabotage attempt
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the probe in the tragic three-train crash in Odisha’s Balasore district last Friday and a team reached the accident spot on Tuesday to investigate.
The agency, as reported by HT, will look at all possible reasons including human error or deliberate attempts to cause the accident.
“CBI has registered a case on the request of ministry of railways, consent of the Odisha government and further orders from DoPT (department of personnel and training) relating to the train accident involving Coromandel Express, Yashwantpur-Howrah Express and a goods train at Bahanaga Bazar in the state of Odisha on June 2,” said a CBI spokesperson.
The agency, the spokesperson added, has taken over the investigation of the case earlier registered at Balasore Government Railway Police (GRP), Cuttack (Odisha) case number 64 regarding the said accident.
“A CBI team has reached Balasore (Odisha),” he said.
Railway authorities already expanded their probe and questioned the assistant station master and drivers of the two trains to ascertain how the worst rail accident in nearly three decades occurred.
Preliminary investigation by the railways identified a change in the interlocking and point machine, an intricate system of interconnected safety checks designed to keep trains from crossing each other’s paths, as the reason for the accident involving the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express, the Howrah-bound Yesvantpur Express, and a freight train.
“However, CBI will look at all the angles, including human error, deliberate attempt to derail the Coromandel Express, and any external factors,” said an officer, who didn’t want to be named.
The accident occurred at Bahanaga Bazar station in Odisha’s Balasore around 6:56pm on Friday, when the Coromandel Express rammed into a goods train bearing iron ore, the impact of the collision flinging several compartments into the adjacent track.
A few of these coaches hit the last two cars of the Howrah-bound Yesvantpur Express, which was passing by on the opposite line at the same time.
The crash killed as many as 278 people and injured nearly 1,100 in what was the worst accident suffered by the public transporter since 1995.
On Sunday, union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the railway board sought a CBI probe into the accident over suspicions of a possible sabotage attempt.
The agency’s investigators and experts from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) are expected to pick up evidence from the accident site, documents from the railway ministry, and examine the victims, railway staff, rescuers, local administration and eyewitnesses to establish what exactly happened, said a CBI official on the condition of anonymity.
It is also likely to take the help of technical experts to know more about train derailments and interlocking systems.
The federal agency is also likely to re-register a first information report (FIR) filed on June 3 by the Government Railway Police (GRP) Cuttack.