Inquiry on as the toll in Odisha train targedy rises to 288

Bhubaneswar: The death toll in the train tragedy that took place at Bahanaga in Balasore district on May 2 has risen to 288 with nearly 1000 injured and being treated in different hospitals of the state. Efforts are on to identify the bodies, a challenging task.

The accident that took place at Bahanaga bazar railway station, barely 40 kms from Balasore, involved three trains. It all began with the Shalimar-Coromandel Express, which was running towards Chennai, ramming into a goods train that was standing on the same track at the station. The impact of the collision resulted in 15 bogies of Coromandel Express getting derailed and falling on the parallel track.

Things got further complicated as the Yeshwantpur-Howrah Express going towards Howrah was coming on the same track on which the detached and damaged bogies of the Coromandel Express were lying. The Yeshwantpur-Howrah Express hit the fallen bogies of Coromandel Express and two of its bogies got derailed in the process.

The impact of the collision between these trains was so severe that not only the derailed bogies got smashed and crushed even the railway track suffered extensive damage for a long distance. By June 3 evening 288 bodies had been officially retrieved from the mangled bogies  while nearly 1000 injured persons were rushed to various hospitals including the medical college hospitals at Cuttack and Balasore.

Prime Minister Narenxdra Modi visited the accident site on May 3 alongwith railway minister Ashwini Vaishnav and union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan. The Prime Minister also visited the Balasore hospital where he met the people injured in the accident which is the biggest railway mishap to have occurred in the history of Odisha. This is also one of the most gruesome accidents in the history of the country.

While the railway ministry has ordered an inquiry there is a lot of speculation about the causes of the accident which has shaken the conscience of the entire nation. Sources said that Coromandel Express which was coming on the same track on which the goods train was standing should have changed track. But something went wrong with signalling and the track could not be changed which resulted in the tragedy. The Prime Minister said that anyone responsible for the tragedy will not be spared.

At the same time there is also speculation about possible sabotage. However, there is no concrete evidence as  yet to establish this angle. The challenge before the government now is to identify the dead bodies and keep them in morgues till the process of identification is completed.