Several trapped under derailed coaches
At least 70 people were killed and more than 350 injured in a horrific train crash today in Odisha involving the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and a goods train, officials and hospital doctors said.
Local villagers, however, claimed that the number of dead could be nearer 100.
Officials said several coaches of the 12864 Bengaluru-Howrah train travelling to Howrah derailed at Bahanaga Baazar in Balasore district and fell on adjacent tracks.
“These derailed coaches collided with 12841 Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and its coaches capsized too,” a senior official said.
A goods train was also involved in the accident as some of the coaches of the Coromandel Express hit its wagons after getting derailed, the official said.
The accident happened around 7 pm, he said.
Railway spokesman Amitabh Sharma, however, told PTI Video that the Coromandel express derailed first, and it’s 10-12 coaches fell on the path of the Bengaluru-Howrah express, which then jumped off the tracks.
The two differing versions could not be immediately reconciled.
Over 350 people have been admitted to different hospitals across the district, officials said, adding that all private and government hospitals have been put on alert in the nearby districts, including state capital Bhubaneswar.
So far, 50 bodies could be brought out from under the overturned coaches, they said.
A PTI reporter at the spot said several people were trapped under the derailed coaches, and locals were assisting emergency services personnel to rescue them, but darkness was hindering the operation.
The local villagers were the first to reach the site and try and help the passengers, pulling out the wounded and the dead from bogies, some of which were nothing but a “mangled heap of steel”, according to eye-witnesses.
A passenger, Rupam Banerjee, told newspersons, “the local people really went out on a limb to help us … not only helping pull out people but retrieve our luggage and get us water.”
Gas cutters are being used to open bogies and bathrooms to rescue people. Some of the scenes at the site “were too gory to describe,” said another passenger, who added that most people who were trapped by the accident have been rescued.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said he was rushing to the accident site, while Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is expected to be also at the site by tomorrow morning.
“Rushing to the site in Odisha. My prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured and condolences to the bereaved families. Rescue teams mobilised from Bhubaneswar and Kolkata. NDRF, State govt. Teams and Airforce also mobilised. Will take all hands required for the rescue ops,” he tweeted.
He also announced ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the deceased, Rs 2 lakh for those grievously injured and Rs 50,000 for those who got minor injuries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too expressed his distressed.
“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 Railway Minister @AshwiniVaishnaw 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,” he tweeted.
Four units of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), three units of NDRF and 60 ambulances were working to rescue the injured, officials said.
The Odisha Government has issued helpline 06782-262286. The railway helplines are 033-26382217 (Howrah), 8972073925 (Kharagpur), 8249591559 (Balasore) and 044- 25330952 (Chennai).
Expressing concern over the accident, in which a large number of people from West Bengal were involved, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was monitoring the situation along with the chief secretary and other officials.
West Bengal Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi added that the state was sending a team led by minister Manas Bhunia and MP Dola Sen to the spot. (PTI)