NEW DELHI: At least 50 people were killed, more than 500 injured and many were feared trapped in a three-train collision in eastern India’s Odisha state, a top official said on Friday.
Images broadcast on local stations showed smashed train compartments torn open with blood-stained holes of twisted metal, and scores of passengers lying beside the tracks near Balasore, about 200km from the state capital Bhubaneswar.
“About 50 people have died and over 500 injured. Our top priority now is rescuing (the passengers) and providing health support to the injured,” Odisha state chief secretary Pradeep Jena said.
Amitabh Sharma, executive director with the Indian Railways, said the two passenger trains “had an active involvement in the accident” while “the third train, a goods train, which was parked at the site, also got (involved) in the accident”.
With rescuers at the crash site pulling the wounded out of the wreckage, fears mounted that the toll could still rise higher, but officials could not give exact figures.
“The casualty figures from the ground or clarity on the number of injured is very difficult to assess for us at this moment,” Sharma said, amid reports that many passengers were still believed to be trapped under mangled rail cars.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “distressed” by the train accident. “In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon,” he tweeted.
Railways minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said he was rushing to the accident site. “Rescue teams mobilised from Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, National Disaster Response Force, state government teams and air force also mobilised. Will take all hands required for the rescue ops,” he tweeted.
India is no stranger to railway accidents and has seen several such incidents in the pastw.
Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2023