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India: At least 207 killed, 900 injured in 3-train crash

June 2, 2023
Photo: ANI/Reuters

(CNN) — More than 200 people were killed and hundreds injured after multiple trains collided in India on Friday evening, according to a local official, in what has been described as a “violent” crash.

Two passenger trains and a goods train collided in an accident in the city of Balasore in Odisha state, according to state chief secretary Pradeep Jena.

The resulting impact killed at least 207 people and injured 900 people, Jena said on Twitter, citing the state’s disaster management agency.

Images from the scene showed rescuers attempting to find survivors in a damaged rail carriage. Video footage also showed upturned coaches littered across train tracks, and people climbing a mangled train carriage.

Friday’s rescue effort included more than 115 ambulances and several fire service units, say authorities.

The cause of the catastrophic crash has yet to be determined, Jena told CNN affiliate News18, emphasizing that the current focus is on ongoing rescue operations.

“We are only working (at) sending additional doctors, ambulances, buses, so all those things we are doing so we have not thought of asking what happened, how it happened,” he said.

One of trains involved in the accident is the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel express, carrying passengers from West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal, said on Twitter.

The Coromandel travels through India’s east coast, between West Bengal’s capital Kolkata to the South Indian city of Chennai.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences on Friday. “Distressed by the train accident in Odisha. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. Rescue ops are underway at the site of the mishap and all possible assistance is being given to those affected,” he wrote.

India’s extensive rail network suffers from aging infrastructure and poor maintenance – factors that are often responsible for accidents.

The death toll from Friday’s crash has already surpassed that of an infamous crash in 2016 – one of the deadliest in recent years – when over 140 people were killed in a derailment in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

In 2021, some 16,431 people were killed in nearly 18,000 railway accidents across the country. “Majority (67.7%) of railway accident cases were reported (as) ‘Fall from trains /collision with people on track,” according to a 2021 report by the National Crime Records

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said he will visit the site of the accident on Saturday morning to review the situation, the department said.

The families of those killed on Friday will receive $12,136, India’s Minister for Railways, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology has announced, with lesser amounts available to people who were injured in the crash.

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