At least 200 people have been killed with more than 900 feared injured after a train derailed in India following a collision with a goods train in Odisha’s Balasore.
The accident happened on Friday night about 137 miles southwest of Kolkata, creating a chaotic scene of twisted wreckage and desperate rescuers as teams tried to free passengers and recover bodies. The cause was under investigation.
The BBC were reporting a death toll of around 230 at 4am on Saturday.
Following the incident, rescue operations were launched and the injured were being moved to Balasore hospital.
The Special Relief Commissioner’s office in Odisha said in a statement: “Teams have left for the spot for search and rescue operation.
“Collector Balasore has also been directed to reach the spot to make all necessary arrangements and intimate the SRC if any additional help is required from the state level.”
According to reports, several teams from the NDRF are on their way to the scene to carry out further search and rescue operations.
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Odisha Fire Services DG and Sudhanshu Sarangi have reportedly been put in charge of supervising the operation.
The county’s Revenue Minister Pramila Mallik and the SRC had been told to head to the site of the accident to ensure the smooth running of the operation.
Pradeep Jena, the top official in Odisha state, said nearly 500 police officers and rescue workers are working alongside 75 ambulances and buses which have responded to the accident.
Railroad ministry spokesperson, Amitabh Sharma, said 10 to 12 train coaches derailed and debris from some of the coaches fell onto a nearby track which was hit by another passenger train coming in the opposite direction.
The Press Trust of India said the derailed Coromandel Express was travelling from Howrah in West Bengal State to Chennai, the capital of southern Tamil Nadu state.
The death toll rose steadily throughout the night. As dawn approached, the top bureaucrat in the eastern state of Odisha announced that at least 207 were dead.
President Droupadi Murmu tweeted his condolences to those affected by the accident. He said: “Deeply anguished to know about the loss of lives in an unfortunate rail accident in Balasore, Odisha.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “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 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.”
One male survivor told India’s ANI news agency: “10 to 15 people fell on me when the accident happened and everything went haywire. I was at the bottom of the pile. I got hurt in my hand and also the back of my neck. When I came out of the train bogie, I saw someone had lost their hand, someone had lost their leg, and someone’s face was distorted.”
According to the PA news agency, despite government efforts to improve rail safety, several hundred accidents occur every year on India’s railways, the largest train network under one management in the world.
In August 1995, two trains collided near New Delhi, killing 358 people in the worst train accident in India’s history. In 2016, a passenger train slid off the tracks between the cities of Indore and Patna, killing 146 people.
Most train accidents are blamed on human error or outdated signaling equipment. More than 12 million people take 14,000 trains across India every day, travelling on 40,000 miles of track.
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