Balasore/Howrah: At least 207 people have died and over 900 injured as a three-way accident involving Bengaluru-Howrah superfast express, the Coromandel Express and a goods train on three separate tracks occurred at Bahanagar in Odisha’s Balasore district on Friday evening.
Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner Satyabrata Sahoo has confirmed the death toll in a tweet.
“Death toll in the train accident increasing. Latest report from @SRC_Odisha from the accident site puts the figure at 207. No of Injured has been about 900,” he said.
Patnaik declares state mourning
With the number of dead as well as injured rising every hour, Odisha’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday declared a one-day state mourning.
Earlier a railway official said that several coaches of 12864 Bengaluru-Howrah superfast express travelling to Howrah, derailed at Bahanagabazar and fell on the up line.
“These derailed coaches collided with 12841 Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express and its coaches capsized too,” he said.
A goods train was also involved in the accident as the coaches of the Coromandel Express hit its wagons after getting derailed, the official said.
The accident occurred at around 7 pm, about 255 kms from Howrah, he said
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.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik directed Special Relief Secretary Satyabrata Sahoo and Revenue Minister Pramila Malik to rush to the accident site, officials said.
Accident relief trains have been dispatched to the spot, a South Eastern Railway official said.
Four units of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), three units of NDRF and 60 ambulances were working to rescue the injured, officials said.
The Odisha government has issued helpline 06782-262286. The railway helplines are 033-26382217 (Howrah), 8972073925 (Kharagpur), 8249591559 (Balasore) and 044- 25330952 (Chennai).
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has expressed shock over the incident. In a tweet, she informed that her government has already sent a six members team to the spot to cooperate with the Odisha government and railway authorities in the rescue operation.
“We are coordinating with Odisha government and South Eastern Railways for our people’s sake. All out efforts for rescue, retrieval, aid and assistance initiated,” she tweeted.
Stalin dials Patnaik to rescue Tamils
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Friday spoke to his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik following the accident of the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express train, and announced that he was deputing a four-member panel to coordinate the rescue of Tamils on the train.
Expressing shock over the accident, Stalin tweeted that he spoke to Patnaik and said the details shared by the latter about the accident were “worrying”. The chief minister also condoled the lives lost in the incident.
“I have asked Transport Minister S S Sivasankar and 3 IAS officials to rush to Odisha to rescue the Tamils involved in the accident. Have directed setting up a helpline,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Southern Railway has set up a helpdesk at Chennai Central railway station here. It also announced the helpline numbers– 044-25330952, 044-25330953 and 044-25354771.
Distressed, tweets PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was distressed by the accident and spoke with Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to take stock of the situation.
“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 possible assistance is being given to those affected,” he tweeted.
West Bengal Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi said the state was sending a team led by Minister Manas Bhunia and MP Dola Sen to the spot.
Union Railway Minister has announced a compensation of ₹10 lakh for victims of the accidents, ₹2 lakh for grievously injured as well as ₹50,000 for those who sustained minor injuries.
(With PTI inputs)