It is being dubbed as the biggest mishap in the past 100 years when three trains of the Indian Railway were involved in a horrific accident that has already claimed, as per official figures, the lives of 280 people. The death count can go higher considering the fact that a number of the injured are in critical condition.
Residents of the sleepy village in Balasore district in Orissa were closing the day’s work and retiring when they heard a loud bang followed by another and a third one. The noise was deafening as per eyewitnesses and found their worst fears come true when they saw mangled bodies of what was to soon become one of the biggest train mishaps of the century.
The Chennai-bound Coromandel Superfast Express, the Yeshwantpur Howrah Superfast Express and good trains were involved in the accident. Details are still sketchy and it is still not clear if the trains derailed after smashing into a goods train.
All the bogies are LHB coaches and are permitted to reach speeds of 130 MPH and the trains are believed to be running at their full speed. The accident could have been even more horrific if the older ICF coaches were involved.
The focus of attention is to get the injured out of the mangled bogies. The NDRF teams from Balasore and other districts have been rushed to the accident site while the Army from the Eastern Base has also been asked to help in the rescue process.
The Railway Minister has already reached the spot but has declined to comment on the cause of the accident. After persistent questioning by reporters, he could only say that a high-level committee has been set up to investigate the accident. The Railway Commissioner is also conducting an independent inquiry separately. The Minister said that the first priority is to get all the injured to hospitals and provide them with medical care. He added that this job has been completed and now the focus is on retrieving the dead bodies and reopening the routes since traffic on both up and downsides has been blocked.
The Chief Minister of Orissa Navin Patnaik and the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Ms Mamta Bannerjee have already reached the accident site and it is reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also visit the tragedy.