At least 50 people died and over 150 were injured as three to four coaches of Yashwantpur Howrah Superfast Express derailed and fell on opposite track, near the Bahanaga railway station in Odisha’s Balasore district on
Friday evening, where the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express collided with them, leading to derailment of 10-12 more coaches, officials said.
Railways Minister Ashwani Vaishnaw, who said that he is rushing to the spot, announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the next of the kin of the dead, Rs 2 lakh for seriously injured and Rs 50,000 for minor injuries.
“At least 3 to 4 coaches of Yashwantpur Howrah Superfast Express derailed around 6.58 p.m. near Bahanaga railway station in Odisha and fell on the opposite track. And soon Coromandel Express came on the opposite track and collided with derailed coaches that led to derailment of its 10 to 12 coaches,” a senior Railway Ministry official in Delhi told IANS.
A ministry statement said: “Train number 12841 Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express and Train number 12864 SMVB-HWH Superfast Express got derailed near Bahanaga Bazaar railway station at around 6.55 p.m. on Friday.”
The official said that as of now it is tough to tell the number of casualties as railways are indulged in rescue operations to save maximum lives.
However, sources at the spot said that 50 people were killed and over 100 injured. Railway staff and officials are present at the accident site and rescue operations are going on at utmost priority, it said.
On the direction of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Revenue Minister Pramila Mallik and Special Relief Commissioner Satyabrata Sahu proceeded towards the accident spot.
Sahu had directed the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) team at Balasore to proceed to the spot immediately for search and rescue operations.
On receiving the information, the Balasore Collector, the SP and other officials rushed to the spot to supervise the rescue operation. Railway officials are now there on the spot. About 20 ambulances have been sent to the accident site to transport the passengers to local hospitals, officials said.
Two fire teams were sent from Bhadrak to the spot. An emergency helpline No +91 6782 262 286 has been opened at Balasore. The Odisha government has directed the fire service DG to rush to the spot and monitor the rescue operation.
Doctors were sent from the Balasore Medical College and all medical colleges and all hospitals in and around Balasore have been kept on alert. SCB Medical College, Cuttack has also been put on readiness.
Odisha Chief Minister Patnaik told media persons that he had “just reviewed the situation about this truly tragic railway accident” and will be visiting Balasore on Saturday morning.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his grief at the accident. “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.
On his part, Vaishnaw said that he was rushing to Balasore. “Rushing to the site in Odisha. My prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured and condolences to the bereaved families. Rescue teams mobilised from Bhubaneswar and Kolkata. NDRF, State govt. teams and Airforce also mobilised. Will take all hands required for the rescue ops”, he tweeted.
The West Bengal government said it was sending a six-member team to Odisha’s Balasore.
A senior state government official said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had personally instructed Chief Secretary H.K. Dwivedi to send the team to the accident spot and help the people from West Bengal who were travelling.
“Since the train started from Shalimar station in West Bengal, it is natural that a good number of passengers travelling by the train are domiciles of West Bengal. The Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary are keeping a constant watch on the situation,” the state government official said.