A South Eastern train official announced on Saturday that the death toll from the tragic train disaster in Odisha has grown to 261 and that the site’s rescue efforts are now complete.
“The fatalities from the train catastrophe on Friday now risen to 261. At several hospitals in Odisha, more than 650 wounded passengers are receiving care, according to SER spokeswoman Aditya Chowdhury.
Around 7 p.m. on Friday, a train crashed near the Bahanaga Baazar station in the Balasore district, roughly 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar. The Railway Ministry immediately ordered an investigation.
According to a statement from the Indian Railways, A M Chowdhary, Commissioner Railway Safety, South East Circle, will be in charge of the investigation into the train disaster. The Commissioner Railway Safety comes under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
On the approach to Howrah, several coaches of the 12864 Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express derailed and landed on nearby lines, according to an official.
“These derailed coaches collided with the 12841 Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and its coaches capsized too,” he claimed.
The Coromandel Express, which was travelling to Chennai, saw part of its coaches collide with the waggons of a cargo train, which was also involved in the disaster, he added.
The bodies were removed from beneath the derailed coaches using gas cutters. A passenger remarked, “Some of the scenes at the site were too horrific to describe.
As mangled coaches lay scattered everywhere, some of which had mounted on others, and others of which had turned turtle from the collision, the nearby railway tracks were nearly completely wrecked.
When the incident occurred, Pijush Poddar, a resident of Berhampore in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district, was taking the Coromandel Express to Tamil Nadu to begin employment there.
“We instantly felt shaken, and the train’s bogie turned to one side. The derailment’s momentum threw many of us out of the compartment. We discovered dead lying around when we finally managed to escape,” he claimed.
There were 1,200 people working at the accident site in addition to 115 ambulances, 50 buses, and 45 mobile health units, according to Bhubaneswar officials. Tractors were among the several types of vehicles used to transport the bodies to the hospitals.
Locals claimed they heard a series of loud noises, raced to the scene, and discovered the derailed coaches to be little more than “a mangled heap of steel.”
“The locals genuinely risked everything to assist us… They not only assisted in getting people out, but also got our stuff and water. One of the travellers, Rupam Banerjee stated.
Following the fatal triple train tragedy, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday proclaimed a day of national mourning.
According to State Special Relief Commissioner Satyabrata Sahoo, the accident victims were being treated at various hospitals.
All public and private hospitals, including the AIIMS in Bhubaneswar, have been placed on alert in the close-by districts.
The Air Force was also reportedly called in to help with the rescue efforts, according to Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who was en route to the scene.
“I’m running to the location in Odisha. My thoughts are for the injured to recover quickly, and my sympathies go out to the families of the deceased. Rescue teams were dispatched from Kolkata and Bhubaneswar. Airforce, State government troops, and NDRF were also mobilised. Will use all resources necessary for the rescue operations,” he said.
In the middle of the night, about 2,000 people flocked to the Balasore Medical College and Hospital to assist the injured and many of them also gave blood.
Chief Secretary Jena expressed her gratitude to the volunteers for giving blood to the accident victims when they most needed it.
“Here at Balasore, 500 units of blood were collected overnight. 900 units are currently in stock. This will assist in the care of accident victims. I owe a debt of gratitude to each and every volunteer who gave blood for such a worthy cause, Jena tweeted.
The railroads offered ex-gratia payments of Rs. 10 lakh for the surviving family members of the deceased, Rs. 2 lakh for those who suffered severe injuries, and Rs. 50,000 for those who had suffered minor wounds.
Announcing an additional ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the surviving family members of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured from the PM’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed his sorrow over the accident.
“Upset about the train crash in Odisha. My thoughts are with the grieving families during this difficult time. May those who were hurt quickly heal. I discussed the subject with Railway Minister @AshwiniVaishnaw over the phone. All available help is being provided to those affected, and rescue operations are currently taking place at the scene of the accident, he tweeted.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed concern over the accident, in which many people from West Bengal were involved, and said she was keeping an eye on the situation with the chief secretary and other officials.
West Bengal Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi announced that the state was sending a delegation to the area, led by MP Dola Sen and minister Manas Bhunia.
The Odisha government issued helpline 06782-262286. The railway helplines are 033-26382217 (Howrah), 8972073925 (Kharagpur), 8249591559 (Balasore) and 044- 25330952 (Chennai).
So far, 18 long-distance trains have been cancelled due to the accident, which happened on the Howrah-Chennai main line in the Kharagpur division of the South Eastern Railway.