According to railway officials, the Coromandel Express passenger train from Kolkata to Chennai collided with another passenger train, the Howrah Superfast Express, in the state of Odisha. The first reports were of a collision with a freight train. The freight train was standing on a track and was therefore involved in the accident, said Amitabh Sharma, managing director of Indian Railways. According to the latest official information from the authorities, at least 288 people died and around 900 travelers were injured.
The accident happened around 7 p.m. local time on Friday evening. The darkness hampered the rescue work, reported the newspaper “Hindustan Times”. In the rubble of the wagons, rescue workers are looking for other survivors. More than 1,000 helpers and around 100 ambulances and buses are in use, it said.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told ANI news agency he had ordered an investigation. According to the police, the details of the accident – around 200 kilometers from the capital of Odisha, Bhubaneswar – have not yet been clarified.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted “dismayed by the train crash”. “In this hour of sorrow, my thoughts are with the bereaved. May the injured recover soon.”
Local media published images of an overturned wagon with many people standing on it. Residents can also be seen trying to get travelers out of wrecked wagons to safety.
Despite the government’s efforts to improve rail safety, several hundred accidents occur on Indian railways every year. Most train accidents are attributed to human error or outdated signaling equipment.
se/mak (rtr, dpa, afp)