At least 288 people have tragically lost their lives and over 700 others have been injured in a triple train mishap near Balasore in Odisha district on Friday evening. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the accident site on Saturday afternoon and pledged that strict action would be taken against those responsible.
Expressing his profound grief, PM Modi said, "I am at a loss for words to express the sorrow. May the Almighty grant us strength to overcome this situation. If anyone is found guilty in this mishap, they will face severe consequences. The injured passengers will receive the best possible treatment." He also expressed his gratitude to the local community for actively participating in the evacuation process.
PM Modi examines incident site
During his visit, the Prime Minister examined the accident site map to gain a better understanding of the cause behind the incident. He subsequently visited the Balasore state government hospital and spoke with the injured individuals.
Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishaw, who promptly arrived at the scene after the accident, ordered a high-level inquiry. He also announced that the rail safety commissioner would conduct a separate investigation.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also visited the accident site. Addressing the media, CM Mamata Banerjee emphasized the absence of an 'anti-collision' device in the train. She called for a thorough investigation into the incident, stating, "This is the worst railway accident of the century. The railway department has always been neglected, and passenger safety and security have been overlooked. Several people from Bengal have also been affected. Those with minor injuries have been sent back to Bengal."
According to sources at the state secretariat Nabanna, as of the reporting time, at least 31 individuals from Bengal have lost their lives, with over 544 sustaining injuries. The West Bengal government has announced compensation of Rs. 5 lakh for the families of the deceased, Rs. 1 lakh for those severely injured, and Rs. 50,000 for those with minor injuries.
Temporary morgue at Bahanara High School in Balasore
Heartbroken relatives of the deceased and missing individuals gathered at Bahanara High School in Balasore, which has been transformed into a temporary morgue, with numerous bodies piled inside. Queueing outside the hospital and Bahanara High School, relatives anxiously awaited a final glimpse of their loved ones upon receiving the devastating news.
As questions arise regarding the cause of this catastrophic accident—whether it was a signaling failure or another factor—only time will reveal the true underlying cause.
The evacuation efforts are still ongoing, with railway sources confirming that the process will continue throughout the night, even into Saturday evening.