BSS
  05 Jun 2023, 13:28

Trains resume service 51 hours after deadly India crash

BALASORE, India, June 5, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Passenger and freight trains were running again on Monday at the site of India's deadliest train disaster in decades, which officials said was caused by failures linked to signal systems.

Trains rumbled past the debris of smashed carriages from Friday night's crash near Balasore in the eastern state of Odisha, where nearly 300 people were killed and hundreds injured.

Officials had initially reported the death toll stood at 288, but the Odisha state government has since revised the toll down to 275 after some bodies were mistakenly counted twice.

Of the 1,175 injured, 382 were still being treated in hospital, authorities said on Sunday.

However, many fear the death toll could still rise with medical centres overwhelmed by the number of casualties, many in serious condition.

Green netting was erected on either side of the tracks, shielding the crumpled carriages, which had been pushed down the embankment, from the view of travelling passengers.

Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was seen folding his hands in prayer as he saw the first train cross the site of the disaster late Sunday.

The railways ministry said the first train, a goods train loaded with coal, started 51 hours after the crash.

It was not immediately clear if all the tracks had been fully repaired, with trains on Monday using only lines on one side.

There was confusion about the exact sequence of events on Friday, but reports cited railway officials saying a signalling error had sent the Coromandal Express running south from Kolkata to Chennai onto a side track.

It slammed into a freight train and the wreckage derailed an express running north from India's tech hub Bengaluru to Kolkata.

Vaishnaw said on Sunday the crash happened due to the "change that occurred during electronic interlocking", referring to a technical term for a complex signal system designed to stop trains colliding by arranging their movement on the tracks.

"Whoever did it, and how it happened, will be found out after proper investigation," he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the crash site and injured passengers in hospital on Saturday and said "no one responsible" would be spared.

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