ODISHA, INDIA — On 2 June, in India’s deadliest rail accident in over a decade, at least 288 people lost their lives and 900 were injured in a devastating collision between two passenger trains in Odisha’s Balasore district.
The horrifying incident took place at approximately 7pm local time when the Howrah Superfast Express, travelling from Bangalore to Howrah, West Bengal, collided with the Coromandel Express running from Kolkata to Chennai.
According to state officials, the death toll is feared to rise. “We have already counted 207 dead and the toll will still go up further,” stated Sudhanshu Sarangi, director general of Odisha Fire Services, highlighting the grim nature of the event.
Reports from the scene describe train compartments torn open, with blood-stained twisted metal and carriages entirely flipped over.
Odisha train accident "The death toll of the horrific train accident in Odisha's Balasore rises to 207 and 900 injured", confirms Odisha Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena #Odisha #balasore #trainaccident #train #accident #ultimahora pic.twitter.com/gtwOSKIc0g
— ViralVdoz (@viralvdoz) June 2, 2023
The rescue workers, with the assistance of sniffer dogs, police officers, and fire department personnel, faced the daunting task of pulling out survivors from the mangled wreckage. National Disaster Response Force teams are also at the site, emphasizing the severity of the incident.
State Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena confirmed that approximately 850 injured individuals had been transferred to hospitals.
“Our top priority now is rescuing the passengers and providing health support to the injured,” he said.
The injured survivors have been receiving treatment in crowded wards, transported there by ambulances and buses from the accident site.
Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has declared June 3 as a day of state mourning to honour the victims.
On Friday, a heartening sight amidst the chaos was the hundreds of young people lining up outside a government hospital in Odisha’s Soro to donate blood.
Conflicting accounts on which train derailed first and the potential causes of the collision have yet to be resolved.
The Indian Railways, which facilitates the daily transportation of over 13 million people, has been scrutinized for its patchy safety record owing to ageing infrastructure.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his distress over the incident. “In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon,” Modi said on Twitter.
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…
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 2, 2023
He has been in touch with railways minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to address the situation.
Despite the catastrophic accident, Indian railway safety has improved significantly in recent years, due to substantial new investments and upgrades in technology.
Update: Number of casualties from Odisha state fire department