BHUBANESWAR, India—In a tragic incident in Odisha state, the collision of two Indian passenger trains has resulted in a staggering death toll of 288 individuals, while over 850 people have been reported injured. This rail accident stands as the deadliest in the country in more than two decades.
According to a state government official, Sudhanshu Sarangi, the director general of Odisha Fire Services, the rescue efforts are still ongoing, with a significant number of severe injuries. Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena took to Twitter to announce that more than 200 ambulances had been dispatched to the scene in Balasore district, along with an additional 100 doctors mobilized, augmenting the existing 80 medical professionals.
Video footage captured by Reuters on Saturday morning revealed the solemn sight of police officials delicately moving bodies, cloaked in white sheets, away from the railway tracks. NDTV news reported an account from an unidentified male survivor, who recounted being awakened by the jarring noise of the train derailing, only to witness the devastation of 10 to 15 lives lost. The survivor managed to escape from the coach and was met with the harrowing scene of dismembered bodies.
Footage from Friday depicted rescuers ascending the wreckage of one of the mangled trains, desperately searching for survivors. Passengers, distraught and in tears, called out for assistance amid the wreckage.
The collision occurred at approximately 19:00 local time (1330 GMT) on Friday, when the Howrah Superfast Express, en route from Bangalore to Howrah, West Bengal, collided with the Coromandel Express, which operates between Kolkata and Chennai.
Authorities have presented conflicting reports regarding which train derailed first, leading to the entanglement. The Ministry of Railways has launched an investigation into the incident to determine the sequence of events. While Chief Secretary Jena and some media outlets have suggested the involvement of a freight train, railway authorities have yet to comment on this possibility.
An extensive search-and-rescue operation has been underway, involving a multitude of fire department personnel, police officers, and sniffer dogs. National Disaster Response Force teams have also been deployed to the site.
Demonstrating their solidarity, hundreds of young individuals lined up outside a government hospital in Soro, Odisha, to donate blood.
Indian Railways, responsible for transporting over 13 million people daily, has experienced challenges in maintaining safety standards due to aging infrastructure. As a mark of respect to the victims, the state has declared Saturday a day of mourning.
India’s most catastrophic railway accident occurred in 1981, when a train careened off a bridge and plunged into a river in Bihar state, claiming the lives of an estimated 800 individuals.