At least 288 dead, many hundreds injured: In India, an investigative commission is now to clarify how the accident happened. Premier Modi threatened those responsible.
They cut steel with cutters, used search dogs, tried everything to find the victims alive. But it was apparently in vain. Since last night they’ve only come across bodies. The rescue work has now been completed, including the recovery of the dead from the smashed wagons. Now it’s a matter of pulling the mountains of rubble off the track.
Anubhav Das was lucky. He was able to free himself from this rubble. He describes the horror he experienced to the AFP news agency: “You see headless bodies, bodies without limbs, sons carrying their fathers, mothers looking for small children and babies. Cries for help could be heard all around me. The impact was so devastating and so powerful that there were bodies being thrown more than 30, 35 meters off the train tracks. That was the site of an extreme catastrophe. So many dead, it was almost like war.”
It is still unclear what exactly happened. One thing is relatively certain: Several wagons of a long-distance train coming from the city of Calcutta overturned for reasons unknown – onto a parallel track. An express train from the opposite direction then crashed into this accident site, it is reported. A freight train on the neighboring track was also affected. Indian media are speculating about a signal disruption and possibly a wrong track. Nothing has been confirmed yet.
Even more people would have died if local residents hadn’t helped all night, sometimes with their bare hands, to free those trapped from the rubble. They later received assistance from disaster relief units in this rural area of Odisha state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the scene of the accident in the afternoon to get an idea. He then visited survivors in the hospital and thanked the helpers: “I thank those who helped the people with all the means at their disposal. I would also like to express my heartfelt thanks to the residents of this place because they helped in these difficult moments , be it through blood donations or rescue operations.”
Indian Prime Minister Modi visits the accident site in the state of Odisha, where the serious train accident occurred.
Now, according to Modi, it must be carefully investigated who is to blame for the disaster. The prime minister announced the establishment of a high-level commission to investigate the case. And he threatened those responsible: “Whoever is found guilty will receive the severest of all severe punishments. You will not be spared.”
Here – far away from the accident site – in the Jammu region and in many other places in India, people are praying for the victims of the catastrophe, which is probably the worst of its kind in more than 20 years. The Indian railway has a huge network, many millions of people are transported every day. There are showcase routes on which modern express trains run, flagship projects of the Indian government. But large parts of the route network are old and sometimes dilapidated.