(GoRealNewsNow.com) – HAPPENING NOW: A devastating train accident, the worst in over 20 years, has claimed the lives of at least 288 people in India. According to a preliminary investigation, the calamity occurred when a passenger train derailed and collided with another due to what appears to be a signal failure.
The train involved in the accident also crashed into a stationary cargo train in the Balasore district of Odisha, a state in Eastern India. The result was a chaotic pileup of train cars, injuring 803 people.
K. S. Anand, the chief public relations officer of the South Eastern Railway, confirmed that the number of fatalities had risen to 288. He warned that the death toll could continue to grow as bodies are still trapped in the wreckage, and rescue efforts are ongoing, as a witness told Reuters.
Anand explained, “The Coromandel Express was supposed to travel on the main line, but a signal was given for the loop line instead. The train hit a goods train already parked there, causing its carriages to fall onto the tracks on either side and also derailing the Howrah Superfast Express.”
Survivors recounted the harrowing scene. Anubha Das, a passenger, described, “Families crushed away, limbless bodies and a bloodbath on the tracks.”
Rescue teams were seen in video footage searching the twisted carriages to extract survivors and transport them to hospitals. A school was converted into a makeshift morgue where bodies lay covered with white cloths and contained in chained bags, waiting to be identified by their grieving families.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the disaster site to monitor the situation and express his condolences. “Words can’t capture my deep sorrow. We stand committed to providing all possible assistance to those affected,” he said.
Ashwini Vaishnaw, Railway Minister, said the families of the deceased would receive compensation of 1 million rupees ($12,000), while the seriously injured would get 200,000 rupees. Those with minor injuries would receive 50,000 rupees. Some state governments also pledged additional compensation.
The tragic accident happened around 7 p.m. on Friday when the Howrah Superfast Express from Bengaluru to Howrah in West Bengal collided with the Coromandel Express from Kolkata to Chennai.
Indian Railways, a state-run entity, transports over 13 million people daily. However, its safety record is inconsistent due to aging infrastructure.
The event sparked renewed calls for safety prioritization on the rail network from critics who argue that the government’s focus on launching high-speed trains and modernizing the network neglects essential safety upgrades.
The incident is a setback to Prime Minister Modi’s plans for modernizing the railways.
The accident was one of India’s deadliest, second only to a 1981 accident when a train fell off a bridge into a river in Bihar state, killing approximately 800 people.
Condolences poured in from world leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and French President Emmanuel Macron.