At least 280 dead and more than 900 injured: The preliminary balance after the worst train accident in India for decades is devastating. Even the day after the disaster, it is unclear what exactly happened.
The collided, overturned wagons lie criss-cross on the tracks. The rubble piles up meters high. Compartments are torn open, windows shattered. Rescuers try to get inside and rescue victims. More than 1000 people are in action. Onlookers film the dramatic scene with their cell phones.
An eyewitness reported shortly after the accident how chaos erupted when the train derailed. “I had just fallen asleep when the train overturned. I noticed that 10 to 15 passengers in my carriage had fallen on my body. I was at the bottom. My arm was injured. When I got out of the carriage, I saw that some People were missing hands. Some legs and heads were injured.”
Another eyewitness from the Indian state of Biharam is still shocked in the morning. He was on the train to bring his children to Kerala to study. “The train went off the track and rolled over. We had to pull people out of the windows. There was no help at the time.”
Commission is to investigate the course of the accident
The injured were taken to nearby hospitals. Emergency rooms were quickly overcrowded. People lined up to donate blood. In the accident in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, a long-distance train from Calcutta apparently derailed shortly before 7 p.m. An express train from the opposite direction drove minutes later to the scene of the accident, it is said. A freight train was also rammed. The exact course of the accident is still being discussed.
India’s Railway Minister Ashwin Vaishnaw visited the scene of the accident in the morning. He announced that he would set up a commission to investigate the cause of the accident. “Right now the focus is on the rescue effort. We are trying to ensure that those who have suffered serious injuries are taken to the hospitals for treatment and that their loved ones are informed,” the minister said. “That’s our focus.”
Rescue workers search for survivors in derailed wagons.
The head of the Indian disaster control agency, Atul Karwal, speaks of a major accident. Many wagons were crushed with great force. Therefore, it is difficult to get into the wagons, especially when there are still living victims in them. “So that they don’t get hurt, we have to work very carefully. We hope that we can finish our work before sunset and recover the last living victim and the last corpse,” says Karwal.
Day of mourning declared in the state of Odisha
Today was declared a day of mourning in the east Indian state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi traveled to Odisha to speak to the injured. Shortly after the accident, Modi had promised compensation for the survivors and those seriously injured.
Large parts of India’s railway system, with its old trains and track systems, are considered to be quite dilapidated. The train crash last night was the worst in India in more than 20 years.