India train accident: More than 260 dead after Odisha accident

India train accident: More than 260 dead after Odisha accident

  • Written by Zoya Mateen in Delhi and Adam Durbin in London
  • BBC News

Video explanation,

WATCH: Drone footage shows devastation after Friday’s train accident

At least 261 people were killed and 1,000 others injured in a three-train collision in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.

A passenger train derailed from the adjacent track and collided with an oncoming train on Friday, and also collided with a stopped freight train nearby.

A large-scale recovery operation is currently underway, after hundreds of emergency workers searched the wreckage.

The cause of India’s worst train accident in more than 20 years is not yet clear.

Officials say that several coaches of the Coromandel Express, which was traveling between Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and Chennai (formerly Madras), derailed at around 19:00 (13:30 GMT) in the Balasore district after colliding with a stationary goods train. Many of her coaches ended up on the opposite path.

Another train traveling in the opposite direction – the Howrah Superfast Express that was traveling from Yesvantpur to Howrah – then collided with the overturned coaches.

“The force with which the two trains collided crushed and mutilated several coaches,” Atul Karwal, head of the National Disaster Response Force, told news agency ANI.

More than 200 ambulances and hundreds of doctors, nurses and rescue personnel were sent to the scene, state secretary Pradeep Jena said.

Sudhanshu Sarangi, Director General of Odisha Fire Department, had earlier said that 288 people had died.

All the trapped and injured passengers were rescued. It is not clear how serious the injuries of those who were taken to hospitals were.

The South Eastern Railway Company said on Saturday that work to restore the accident site has begun.

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It is India’s worst train accident this century

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the accident site on Saturday afternoon and joined Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnau at the accident site.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the accident, although Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan blamed “technical reasons”.

Survivors and eyewitnesses described the chaotic scenes and heroic efforts made by residents of nearby villages to rescue the trapped passengers.

Mukesh Pandit, who was trapped for half an hour before being rescued, told the BBC that he heard a “loud sound” shortly before the vehicle overturned.

He added: “Four passengers who were traveling from my village survived, but many people were injured or are still missing. Many people died on the bus I was traveling on.”

Fatal train accident in India

  • June 1981: Nearly 800 people were killed when seven of the nine cars of an overcrowded train fell into a river during a hurricane.
  • August 1995: At least 350 people were killed when two trains collided 200 kilometers (125 mi) from Delhi.
  • August 1999: Two trains collide near Kolkata, killing at least 285 people.
  • October 2005: 77 people were killed when a train derailed in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
  • November 2016: Nearly 150 people were killed and a similar number injured when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed near Kanpur.

Residents of nearby villages were among the first to arrive at the accident site and begin the rescue operation.

India has one of the world’s largest train networks used by millions of passengers daily, but much of the rail infrastructure needs improvement.

Trains can be very crowded at this time of year, with more people traveling during school holidays.

The two passenger trains involved in the accident were full and there were more people on the waiting list, according to passenger lists on the Indian Railways Ministry’s website reviewed by the BBC.

India’s worst train disaster occurred in 1981, when an overcrowded passenger train exploded off the tracks and fell into a river during a cyclone in Bihar state, killing at least 800 people.

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