In one of the worst railway disasters in India, at least 288 people were killed and more than 900 injured when three trains collided one after another in Odisha’s Balasore district. 

While the Railways have announced a high-level probe “to get to the grass root of the cause”, a  massive rescue and evacuation process was launched. 

The train crash happened near the Bahanaga Baazar station in Balasore district of Odisha, about 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar, around 7 pm on Friday. At least two passenger trains and one good train were said to be involved in the accident, it is being said. 

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik has mobilised the aid for the search and rescue operations in the aftermath of the Coromandel Express accident. Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee said her state government will be coordinating with the neighbouring state and Railways in search and rescue operations. 

Also read: What is KAVACH? Could it have prevented the Odisha train tragedy? 

On Saturday morning, Odisha Chief Secretary, Pradeep Jena, announced that the death toll in the Coromandel Express accident rose to 233. 

The Railways have separately announced that Anant Madhukar Chowdhary, Commissioner of Railway Safety, South East Circle will inquire into the accident. 

“Our focus is on rescue and relief operations. Restoration will begin after clearance from district administration. A detailed high-level inquiry will be conducted and the rail safety commissioner will also do an independent inquiry,” Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said after visiting the site. Vaishnaw also took part in the search and rescue operations.

He reiterated that a high level probe has been launched into the matter to get to the “root cause”.

“The rescue operation has been completed, now we are starting the restoration work. Kawach was not available on this route,” a Railways Spokesperson said.

Contradictory reports 

So far, there have been contradictory reports on the accident. 

Authorities have provided conflicting accounts on which train derailed first to become entangled with the other.

While it has been suggested that a freight train was also involved in the crash, railway authorities have yet to comment on that possibility.

It is being said that the Yashwantpur-Howrah Superfast Express, running from Bangalore to Howrah, West Bengal, collided with the Coromandel Express, which runs from Kolkata to Chennai. The accident occurred at around 7 p.m. when two coaches of the Yashwantpur - Howrah Express derailed near Bahanaga Railway station in Balasore district. The derailed coaches tossed over to the adjoining track and hit the speeding 12841 Coromandel Express coming from the opposite direction. It led to the derailment of about 17 bogies.

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A section of Railway officials also said that it was the Coromandel Express whose bogies had derailed and were hit by the Yashwantpur - Howrah Superfast Express. 

As a result of this accident, at least 48 trains along the route have been cancelled, 39-odd diverted and 10-odd short terminated, as per a statement issued by the Railways.