India’s deadliest train accident in decades has been linked to a signaling system, the railways minister said Sunday, as families searched hospitals and morgues for missing relatives. Around 288 people are expected to die.
Debris piled high at the crash site near Balasore in the eastern state of Orissa on Friday night, as track repair workers cleared the wrecked vehicles and bloody wreckage that injured hundreds.
The hospital is overwhelmed with a large number of casualties.
India’s Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnau told news agency ANI that “the cause of the accident and those responsible have been identified”. He said it was “not appropriate” to release details before submitting a final report.
There was some confusion about the exact sequence of events, but news reports, citing railway officials, said that the Coromandal Express, which was traveling south from Kolkata to Chennai, was forced into a siding due to a signal error.
A freight train collided with the wreckage, derailing an express train traveling north from Bengaluru, an Indian technology hub, to Kolkata, which was also passing through the site.
Orissa Fire Department Chief Sudhansh Sarangi said the death toll was 288 but could rise closer to 380.
Orissa’s chief secretary, Pradeep Jena, confirmed about 900 wounded were hospitalized.
– “Somebody should be punished” –
Weishnau referred to a terminology that refers to a complex signaling system designed to coordinate the movement of trains on tracks to stop collisions, saying that “a change occurred during the electronic interlocking and the accident resulted from it.” said.
“Who did it and how it happened will only be known after proper investigation,” he said.
Local media cited a preliminary report, with the Times of India reporting on Sunday that “human error in the signals may have caused the three trains to collide.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the crash site on Saturday and said passengers were hospitalized with injuries and that “no one responsible” was saved.
“I hope we can get out of this sad moment as soon as possible,” he told state broadcaster Doordarshan.
The rescue operation was called off on Saturday evening after emergency workers searched the mangled wreckage for survivors and left dozens of bodies by the tracks.
A high school near the crash site was turned into a makeshift morgue, but authorities said many of the bodies were badly mutilated and that only jewelry could identify loved ones among distraught families.
Police officer Ranajit Nayak, who was in charge of releasing the bodies at the school, said: “Only the torso, there were bodies with completely charred faces, deformed skulls and no other visible markings of identity. ‘ said.
Unidentified bodies were being transferred to larger centers in the sweltering heat, and officials suggested some would only be identified through DNA testing.
Mohammad Abid, 35, said his 18-year-old son had managed to survive the accident without injury, but was looking for his cousin who was traveling with him.
“I want to know how two trains were allowed to run on the same track…someone should be punished for this,” Abid said.
~Looking for someone special~
A grief-stricken Vishwanath Thani, 47, was looking for her 26-year-old son, Manoj Kumar, who had traveled to Chennai to work in the textile industry.
He waited in the morgue after visiting all the hospitals he could.
“I don’t know if I will find my son,” he said.
Waiting next to him was his friend Mahender Yadav, 60, whose two sons who had traveled with Kumar are recovering in hospital.
“One of them is seriously injured, but I know he is in hospital and the doctors will do their best,” Yadav said. “I just wanted to be with Saani and hope he could find his son.”
Authorities said all hospitals between the crash site and the state capital, Bhubaneswar, about 200 kilometers away, had accepted victims.
India has the world’s largest railway network and has suffered several disasters over the years, the worst being in 1981 when a train derailed while crossing a bridge in Bihar, sending it into the river below. It fell, killing 800 to 1,000 people.
Friday’s accident was the third deadliest and deadliest since 1995, when two express trains collided in Firozabad, near Agra, killing more than 300 people.
The disaster occurred despite new investments and upgrades in technology that have greatly improved railway safety in recent years.
Condolences were sent from around the world, including Pope Francis, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and French President Emmanuel Macron.
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/deadly-india-train-crash-linked-to-signal-system-failure/news-story/50ac5bf39c76d710b3a4a790b3bb5fc2 Government links Indian train crash with signaling system