Death toll jumps to 288 in Odisha triple train collision
The death toll from the horrific triple train collision in the eastern Indian state of Odisha rose to 288 people this morning.
Sudhanshu Sarangi, director general of Odisha Fire Services, confirmed the death toll to our New Delhi correspondent.
Odisha Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena indicated the death count may increase when he said many have suffered serious injuries and are undergoing treatment in hospitals.
Over 900 were also injured in the collision, Pradeep Jena tweeted early today.
Videos beamed across TV channels showed rescuers used gas-cutters to get their way into the mangled coaches to pull out passengers of the ill-fated passenger trains.
Scores of blood donors queued up at Balasore district heeadquarters Hospital in Bhadrak to donate blood for the people injured in the train accident.
The crash involved Howrah-bound Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and Chennai-bound Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express near Bahanaga village in Balasore district on Friday evening.
Coramandel Express earlier collided with a goods train around 7:00pm and at least 15 of its coaches derailed and fell on the adjacent track where they were rammed by Bengaluru-Howrah Express coming from opposite direction.
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.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said authorities' priority was "removing the living to the hospitals, that's our first concern, to look after the living".
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said he was rushing to the accident site.
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.
— Ashwini Vaishnaw (@AshwiniVaishnaw) June 2, 2023
He also announced ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the deceased, Rs 2 lakh for those grievously injured and Rs 50,000 for those who got minor injuries.
Vaishnaw told ANI at the accident site late on Friday night that an order has been given to conduct a high-level probe into the accident.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was distressed by the accident, and spoke with Vaishnaw to take stock of the situation.
Pradeep Jena earlier said around 700 people were trapped in the derailed coaches, some of which were badly damaged, of the two express trains and efforts were on to rescue them.
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…
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 2, 2023
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.
"We are coordinating with Odisha government and South Eastern Railways for our people's sake," she tweeted.
The services of several long-distance trains on the route were cancelled following the accident.