On Friday, a passenger train derailed and collided with an oncoming train and a stationary freight train nearby. The incident triggered a large-scale recovery operation involving emergency personnel who searched through the wreckage. The exact cause of this devastating train accident, the worst in India in over 20 years, is still unknown.
According to officials, several coaches of the Coromandel Express, which was traveling between Kolkata and Chennai, derailed in the Balasore district at around 19:00 local time. The derailment occurred after the train struck a stationary goods train, causing some carriages to end up on the adjacent track. Subsequently, the overturned coaches were hit by the Howrah Superfast Express, which was traveling in the opposite direction.
Atul Karwal, the chief of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), explained that the collision resulted in severe damage and deformation of multiple coaches. Over 200 ambulances and a significant number of medical and rescue personnel were dispatched to the scene, as reported by Pradeep Jena, the chief secretary of the state.
Initially, Sudhanshu Sarangi, the director general of Odisha Fire Services, reported a death toll of 288. However, all trapped and injured passengers have been rescued since then. The extent of injuries among those taken to hospitals is still being assessed. Restoration work at the crash site has already begun under the supervision of India’s South Eastern Railway company.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accompanied by Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, visited the accident site on Saturday afternoon. An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the crash, although Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan attributed it to “technical reasons.”
Survivors and witnesses have described chaotic scenes and the courageous efforts of nearby villagers to save trapped passengers. Mukesh Pandit, who was trapped for half an hour before being rescued, mentioned hearing a loud noise before the carriage overturned. He also shared that four passengers from his village survived, but many others sustained injuries or are still missing. Sadly, numerous lives were lost within the coach where he was traveling.