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Monday, December 4, 2023

Tragic Train Accident in Odisha: Over 200 Feared Dead, Rescue Operations Underway


BALASORE, ODISHA – A devastating Train accident last evening is believed to have claimed the lives of at least 207 passengers, while leaving over 900 individuals seriously injured. The incident took place near Bahanaga Railway station in the Balasore district of Odisha when two coaches of the Yashwantpur-Howrah Express (train number 12864) derailed, colliding with the oncoming Coromandel Express (train number 12841) from the opposite direction.The catastrophic collision occurred as the derailed coaches of the Yashwantpur-Howrah Express (train number 12864) tossed approximately 17 bogies onto the adjoining track.

Railway officials have refrained from speculating on the exact cause of the accident and are awaiting the outcome of initial investigations. Disaster response teams and local residents are actively engaged in the retrieval of bodies trapped under the derailed coaches, and it is anticipated that the death toll will significantly increase as a result.

The Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express, a long-distance train connecting West Bengal with Tamil Nadu, had departed from Shalimar station earlier in the day. The majority of its passengers, hailing from West Bengal, were traveling to Tamil Nadu for work or to access better healthcare facilities.

Experts and authorities have labeled this rail accident as one of the most severe in recent history. It is worth noting that the Coromandel Express, which was also involved in an accident in Jajpur district of Odisha about 50 km from the present location, back in 2013.

In response to the tragedy, the Odisha government swiftly mobilized numerous teams, with over 10 senior Secretaries and a Minister overseeing rescue operations. Chaos has ensued at the accident site and healthcare centers, with doctors overwhelmed by the influx of patients requiring immediate medical attention. Ambulances blaring their sirens throughout the night have kept local residents awake, while hundreds of villagers from nearby communities have actively participated in rescue efforts. Locals have displayed a selfless act of donating blood, forming queues to provide support to the injured. Authorities have deployed over 115 ambulances to evacuate seriously wounded individuals.

Expressing their condolences, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took to Twitter to express their grief over the accident. Chief Minister Patnaik has announced that he will personally visit the site on Saturday morning.

“Deeply anguished to know about the loss of lives in an unfortunate rail accident in Balasore. My heart goes out to the bereaved families. I pray for the success of rescue operations and quick recovery of the injured,” tweeted President Droupadi Murmu.

For assistance and information, the Odisha government has released a helpline number, 06782-262286. Railway helplines have also been made available: 033-26382217 (Howrah), 8972073925 (Kharagpur), 8249591559 (Balasore), and 044-25330952 (Chennai).

Rescue teams have been called in from neighboring districts by the State government, while Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has sought the aid of the Air Force in the ongoing rescue operations. The Railway Minister has announced compensation of ₹10 lakh for the families of the deceased and ₹2 lakh for those seriously injured.

Chief Minister Patnaik emphasized that saving the lives of injured passengers remains the government’s top priority. Hospital authorities in Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Kendrapara, and Cuttack have been instructed to ensure the respectful handling of all deceased bodies, covering them with sheets and safeguarding them from access by outsiders or animals.

Responding to the situation, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has dispatched a team led by Transport Minister S.S. Sivasankar to Odisha to provide aid to the affected Tamils. Helpline numbers for the State Emergency Operation Centre in Chennai have been issued: 1070 (toll-free), 94458 69843, 94458 69848 (WhatsApp), and 044 2859 3990 (landline). Chief Minister Stalin has expressed shock and condolences to Chief Minister Patnaik and assured all necessary assistance to those affected by the accident. A medical team will also be sent to Odisha if required.

A four-member team, including a Minister and an MP, has been dispatched by the West Bengal government to the accident site. This team, consisting of State Minister Manas Ranjan Bhunia, Rajya Sabha MP Dola Sen, a retired Indian Railways officer, and an Additional District Magistrate, will coordinate with railway officials and the Odisha government to provide rescue and relief to affected passengers. An emergency control room has been established, and individuals can contact 033-22143526/22535185 for necessary assistance.

Describing the situation as “severe in nature,” Chief Secretary H.K. Dwivedi announced that the Balasore District Magistrate promptly requested ambulances from the West Bengal government. The West Bengal government dispatched the requested ambulances, and hospitals and medical colleges in neighboring districts have been activated to provide treatment to the injured.

Expressing her shock on social media, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stated, “I am shocked to learn that the Shalimar-Coromandel Express, which was carrying passengers from West Bengal, collided with a goods train near Balasore yesterday evening, causing serious harm and injuries to some of our outbound people.” We are coordinating with Odisha government and South Eastern Railways for our people’s sake.” She also confirmed her personal monitoring of the situation, along with the Chief Secretary and other senior officers.


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