Accident: Serious train accident shakes India

Serious train accident shakes India

The rescue work is over. Now the wreckage of the derailed trains is being removed. photo

© Rafiq Maqbool/AP

With at least 275 dead, it is one of India’s deadliest train accidents. It shocks the country and triggers a debate about safety on the tracks.

At least 275 people have died and hundreds injured in one of the worst train accidents in India. Over the weekend, in a rural area in the Balasore district, a good 200 kilometers southwest of Kolkata in the state of Odisha, hundreds of helpers were on duty who first rescued survivors and recovered bodies and then began to repair the many wrecks and broken tracks lying all over the place clear.

The goal is to complete the clearance work by Wednesday, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told the Indian news agency ANI. The investigation into the accident involving two passenger trains and a freight train on Friday evening continued.

An error in the electrical signal

At the same time, many relatives in various morgues tried to identify the victims. Authorities also uploaded lists and photos of the deceased to various government websites for identification purposes, it said. Relatives should therefore not look at them with children. Many hospitals were also overwhelmed by the many accident patients. “The cries for help from the passengers trapped in the mangled carriages and the many bodies lying around will haunt me forever,” a young doctor and first responder told the Times of India.

According to initial findings, the cause of the accident was probably a fault in the electrical signal, as Railway Minister Vaishnaw told the ANI news agency on Sunday: “We have found the cause of the incident and who is responsible.” However, the investigations were still ongoing. A passenger train is said to have received the wrong signal and therefore drove onto a track where a freight train was standing, the Times of India reported, citing an official. He crashed into the freight train at high speed. A second passenger train is said to have crashed into the derailed wagons.

There was no automatic train safety system

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to severely punish those responsible for the disaster while visiting the scene of the accident and a hospital where the injured were injured. After the accident, several opposition politicians accused the government of not having invested enough in railway safety and called on Minister Vaishnaw, among others, to resign. He pointed out that now was not the time for political discussions, but to provide help.

Unlike in other places, no automatic train safety system to prevent collisions was in operation on the affected route, the Times of India reported, citing the railway. The Indian government had recently invested a lot in improving the railway, including in express trains. Security seemed to have improved. India, the world’s most populous country with around 1.4 billion people, has one of the world’s largest rail networks. But also because it has grown historically, many trains are still old and some tracks need to be overhauled. Accidents happen all the time.

Many migrant workers among the victims

India has had several terrible train accidents in the past – notably one in 1981 when at least 800 people died when a hurricane hit an overcrowded train, or in 1995 when at least 350 people died when two trains collided , as “India Today” reported.

Many people depend on trains, including migrant workers who use them to travel across the vast country in search of work. Also on the trains that crashed on Friday were many migrant workers who traveled from the poorer east of the country to the more affluent south, local media reported.

Politicians and heads of state around the world made condolences to the rail disaster – including US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose family has Indian roots, Pope Francis and Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Scholz wrote on Twitter: “The train accident in India with hundreds of dead and injured shocks me deeply. My thoughts are with the victims, the injured and their families. Germany stands by India at this difficult time.” In Germany, people also commemorated the Eschede accident at the weekend, the worst train accident in German history. On June 3, 1998, 101 people died in Lower Saxony.


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