280 killed and 1100 injured in India train accident; PM Narendra Modi reviews rescue operations



In one of the most severe train mishaps that India has witnessed in the recent past, more than 280 people were killed and at least 1100 were injured in a rail pileup involving three trains near Balasore in Odisha on June 2 evening. A rescue operation is underway. The crash took place when the Coromandel Express passenger train heading south derailed after hitting a stationary goods train.

Several carriages from the train fell on the opposite track where another passenger train, the Howrah Superfast Express, traveling in the opposite direction rammed the derailed bogies. One of the injured said: “People were trying to run and escape from the train. The coach in front of me was badly mangled. People were badly trapped. I saw people piled on top of each other. My coach derailed, but thankfully I managed to escape.” Another survivor who did not share his name told local television he had fallen asleep and was jolted awake when the train derailed, causing about 15 people to fall on top of him.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the scene in Balasore on Saturday, to survey the site, meet with emergency teams and visit injured passengers in the hospital. More than 115 ambulances and several fire service units are involved in the rescue effort. The Indian army, teams from the National Disaster Response Force, the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, and the state’s fire services have been dispatched to the site. Hundreds of people had gathered outside local hospitals to donate blood.

Modi said that people from various states who were traveling in the trains have been impacted by this monumental tragedy. While talking about the loss of lives, he said that all possible medical help will be provided to those injured. He said that the government stands with the bereaved family members who have lost their loved ones. Modi added that instructions have been given to ensure proper and speedy investigation of the tragedy, and to take prompt and stringent action against those found guilty.

He commended the efforts of the Odisha government, local administration and of the local people, especially youth, who worked through the night to assist ongoing efforts. He also lauded the local citizens who turned up in large numbers for blood donation, to help those injured.

US President Joe Biden and First lady Jill Biden said they were both heartbroken by the tragic news of the deadly train crash in Balasore district. “Our prayers go to those who have lost loved ones and the many who suffered injuries in this terrible incident.”

“The United States and India share deep bonds rooted in the ties of family and culture that reunite our two nations – and people all across America mourn alongside the people of India. As the recovery effort continues, we will hold the people of India in our thoughts,” the White House statement added.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida have extended their condolences.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Narendra Singh Bundela, inspector general of operations at the National Disaster Response Force (NDRP), said teams have rescued passengers found alive at the site, but many bodies remain trapped under the derailed carriages. Bundela said 17 coaches were derailed and severely damaged in the accident.

“This is a serious incident and the government has ordered an inquiry,” he said. “In India, this could be one of the most serious accidents of this century.” India’s extensive rail network runs about 11,000 trains every day over 67,000 miles of tracks. The death toll from the crash has surpassed that of another accident in 2016, when more than 140 people were killed in a derailment in northern Uttar Pradesh state.


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