Bhubaneswar, Jun 02, 2023, IANS
A devastating train accident occurred on Friday evening near Bahanaga railway station in Balasore district, Odisha, as multiple coaches of the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel express train derailed. The incident resulted in numerous passengers being trapped, with at least 50 fatalities reported.
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Initial reports indicate that four coaches of the express train derailed at Bahanaga station. The cause of the accident remains unclear, although some sources suggest that it occurred when the train collided with a stationary goods train at the station. However, railway officials have refuted these claims.
According to a spokesperson from the railway, around 12 to 15 coaches of the Shalimar-Howrah Coromandel Express derailed at Bahanaga station at approximately 6:51 p.m. Some of the coaches veered onto another track, and at 6:55 p.m., the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast train (12864) collided with the derailed coaches at the same location.
Tragically, the accident claimed the lives of at least 50 people, and approximately 100 others sustained injuries, sources reported.
In response to the incident, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik directed Revenue Minister Pramila Mallik and Special Relief Commissioner Satyabrata Sahu to proceed to the accident site. Sahu promptly instructed the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) team in Balasore to initiate immediate search and rescue operations.
Upon receiving the information, the Balasore Collector, the Superintendent of Police, and other officials rushed to the scene to supervise the rescue efforts. Railway officials are also present, and approximately 20 ambulances have been dispatched to transport the injured passengers to local hospitals, officials confirmed.
Additionally, two firefighting teams were sent from Bhadrak to assist at the site.
An emergency helpline number, +91 6782 262 286, has been established in Balasore. The Odisha government has instructed the Director-General of the Fire Service to travel to the location and oversee the rescue operations.
Medical personnel from Balasore Medical College were dispatched to provide assistance. Currently, there are ten injured passengers receiving treatment at Balasore Medical College, officials informed.
All medical colleges and hospitals in and around Balasore have been put on high alert. SCB Medical College in Cuttack has also been prepared to receive patients if needed.
Chief Minister Patnaik expressed his condolences to the affected families and stated that he had recently reviewed the situation. He announced plans to visit Balasore on Saturday morning to assess the situation firsthand.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his sorrow over the accident, tweeting, "Distressed by the train accident in Odisha. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon." He further stated that he had spoken to Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to discuss the situation and assured all possible assistance in the ongoing rescue operations.
Railway Minister Vaishnaw himself expressed his concern and pledged to visit Balasore. In a tweet, he wrote, "Rushing to the site in Odisha. My prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured and condolences to the bereaved families." He also mentioned that rescue teams from Bhubaneswar and Kolkata, along with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), state government teams, and the Airforce, were mobilized to aid in the rescue operations.
The West Bengal government announced that it would send a six-member team to assist in Balasore. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee instructed Chief Secretary H.K. Dwivedi to dispatch the team to support passengers from West Bengal who were affected by the accident.
"As the train originated from Shalimar station in West Bengal, it is natural that a significant number of passengers on board are residents of West Bengal. The Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary are closely monitoring the situation," stated a senior official from the West Bengal government.
The tragic train collision and derailment in Balasore have cast a pall of sadness over the region. The rescue and recovery operations are ongoing, as authorities work tirelessly to aid the victims and their families during this difficult time.