After the deadly train accident in Odisha on Friday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Balasore district of the state today to take stock of relief and restoration measures, promising the strictest action against those who are found guilty.
“It’s a painful incident. The government will leave no stone unturned for the treatment of those injured. It’s a serious incident, and instructions have been issued for a probe from every angle. Those found guilty will not be spared. They will be punished stringently,” the prime minister said after his review of the situation in the state.
“Railways has dedicated all its efforts and resources to relief and restoration. I met the injured victims at the hospital. I don’t have words to express the grief,” Modi added.
Meanwhile, official figures at 2:00 pm on Saturday confirmed that the death toll reached 288, making the Balasore accident the worst in the last 28 years. In 1999, the Gaisal train accident had claimed 285 lives.
According to South Eastern Railway, 288 deaths have been confirmed, while 803 people are currently injured and receiving treatment. 747 of these are “simple injuries”, according to the data. Between the two passenger trains involved, there were close to 2300 reserved passengers on these trains.
While the railways had maintained that it was a derailment till earlier today, the official version of the events indicates a collision between the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express and a goods train stationed at the loop line.
A loop line is provided for temporary stoppage of trains in the event of a train behind being given priority in movement. In this case, the express train was cleared to go straight on the main line and the goods train was on the loop line. However, the express train collided with the good train on the loop line at full speed as the loco pilot did not envisage any reason to stop or slow the train down, following which the collision happened.
“The impact was such that 21 coaches of the train derailed and three coaches infringed on the other track,” the official report of the incident said.
At the same time, the Howrah-Bengaluru express train was passing through from the opposite direction and the three derailed coaches infringing on the other track rammed into the passing train, taking two of its rear coaches out.
A high-level probe is underway to determine the exact point of negligence. Rescue work at the site has been completed and restoration work is underway.