New Delhi, Jun 3 (EFE).- Indian authorities said on Saturday that they were entirely focusing on search and rescue operations a day after a collision between three trains killed at least 238 people and wounded around 900 in the eastern state of Odisha.
“The entire focus now is on rescue, providing the best possible treatment to the injured, and informing the families,” Indian railways minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told reporters from the accident site, adding that an in-depth investigation had been launched into the cause of the accident.
The incident took place at 7.20 pm on Friday in the Balasore district.
Indian railways authorities have raised the death toll to 238 in their latest report, although the number could rise further, and said that at least 650 people had been moved to nearly hospitals.
However, Odisha’s regional general secretary Pradeep Jena put the number of wounded at at least 900.
“One bogie (train wagon) has been found severely damaged and had rammed into another bogie. The National Disaster Response Force and Odisha disasters workforce and fire-service personnel are still working to cut the bogue and try to recover the living or the bodies,” Jena told reporters.
Odisha fire service chief Sudhanshu Sarangi said that two passenger trains and a goods train were involved in the accident.
Although the authorities have not clarified the exact sequence of events, the accident took place when the first passenger train – plying between the western city of Kolkata and Chennai (south) – derailed, after which a goods train and another passenger train going from Bengaluru (south) to Kolkata collided with parts of the first train and each other.
The crash marks the worst railway accident in the country in a decade, and resulted in the cancellation of around a dozen trains while many others were diverted.
The authorities have announced a day of mourning in Odisha, and said that the families of the deceased would be given a compensation of over $12,000, while the seriously injured passengers would receive $2,500. A $600 compensation would be given for light injuries.
India’s railway network is the fourth largest in the world after the United States, Russia and China, with a coverage of over 68,000 kilometers.
It transports around 23 million passengers daily in over 21,600 trains moving through 7,349 stations. EFE