India’s Deadliest Train Accident Claims Nearly 300 Lives, Rescue Efforts Continue

People inspect the site of passenger trains that derailed in Balasore district, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, Saturday, June 3, 2023. Rescuers are wading through piles of debris and wreckage to pull out bodies and free people after two passenger trains derailed in India, killing more than 280 people and injuring hundreds as rail cars were flipped over and mangled in one of the country's deadliest train crashes in decades. RAFIQ MAQBOOL / AP

In a devastating train accident in India’s eastern state of Odisha, at least 288 people have lost their lives, with over 850 others sustaining injuries. Rescue teams, including the Indian army, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and police, are working tirelessly to locate survivors and recover bodies amidst the wreckage. The death toll is expected to rise as more people are feared to be trapped inside the mangled train cars.

The tragedy unfolded when three trains collided on Friday night, but the exact sequence of events is yet to be officially confirmed. Eyewitnesses and local news reports suggest that the Coromandel Shalimar Express derailed and collided with a stationary goods train, causing several coaches to flip over. Approximately 20 minutes later, the Yeshvantpur-Howrah Superfast train, approaching the accident site, rammed into the derailed coaches on the adjacent track.

The state government has declared a day of mourning, as the scale of the disaster overwhelms local hospitals unaccustomed to such a large influx of critically injured patients. More than 200 ambulances are in service, transporting the wounded to medical facilities. However, the sheer number of dazed and bleeding victims has stretched resources thin.

India’s Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has expressed his condolences and labeled the accident as “tragic.” He emphasized that the immediate focus remains on rescue and relief operations, and a high-level inquiry committee, along with a separate investigation by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, has been initiated to determine the cause of the tragedy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the crash site, expressed his distress and extended his sympathies to the bereaved families. He has called for a meeting of senior officials to assess the situation and has pledged “all possible assistance” for the victims.

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This horrific incident underscores the challenges faced by India’s railway system, which carries millions of passengers daily. Despite substantial investments in modernization, a significant portion of the country’s rail infrastructure remains outdated and in need of renovation.

The compensation announced by the Railway Ministry includes approximately $12,200 for the families of the deceased, $2,440 for the seriously injured, and $610 for those with minor injuries.

While investigations are underway, this tragic event stands as one of the deadliest train accidents in recent Indian history, joining the ranks of previous disasters that claimed hundreds of lives.


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