PM Modi to visit Odisha to review situation, train accident toll rises to 261
Balasore/New Delhi, June 3: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a meeting to take stock of the situation in the wake rail accident in Odisha in which 261 people lost their lives and about 900 were injured with the Centre and state governments' focused on relief efforts to provide succour to people impacted by the huge tragedy.
PM Modi will visit Odisha today in the wake of three-way rail accident that took place on Friday evening and involved Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Coromandel Express and the goods train on three separate tracks at Bahanaga Bazar Station in Balasore district. Seventeen coaches of the passenger trains were de-railed and severely damaged.
PM Modi will visit the site of the accident in Balasore and then go to the hospital in Cuttack, sources said. He will review the situation in the wake of the train mishap during his visit to Odisha.
Home Minister Amit Shah was also present at the meeting chaired by the Prime Minister. The meeting discussed aspects relating to rescue, relief and medical attention to those affected.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also reached Balasore. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visited the site of the tragedy.
Vaishnaw said a detailed high-level inquiry will be conducted and the rail safety commissioner will also do an independent inquiry.
He said rescue operation has been completed and restoration work has started. "We will thoroughly investigate this incident and will ensure such incidents don't happen in future," he said.
The minister said it was a big tragic accident and added that the Railways, NDRF, SDRF, and state government were involved in the rescue operation.
"Best possible healthcare facilities will be provided. Compensation was announced yesterday. A high-level committee has been formed to inquire about it," he said.
While the Odisha government declared one-day mourning, the BJP deferred the programmes to be held on Saturday in connection with the Modi government completing nine years in office. DMK also cancelled its events scheduled for Saturday.
The death toll in the accident, one of the biggest in recent memory, has risen to 261.
South Eastern Railway said that as per the information received till now there are 261 casualties.
Injured passengers have been taken to the Hospitals of Gopalpur, Khantapara, Balasore, Bhadrak and Soro, it said.
Congress leaders Prithviraj Chavan demanded resignation of Vaishnaw and said the findings of inquiry into the rail accident should be made public.
The scale of tragedy was evident from the visuals of the accident site with some bogeys thrown wide off from the track, crushed or in mangled condition and belongings of passengers strewn around.
The survivors also recalled the scale of tragedy.
A family of three, who was travelling in one of the trains involved in train accident, returned to their home in Purba Medinipur in West Bengal said they felt a jolt and there was smoke in the compartment.
"We left for Chennai from Kharagpur station yesterday. After Balasore station, the train felt a jolt. Then we saw the compartment filling with smoke. I could not see anyone. The local people came to my aid and they pulled me out of the wreckage...," said Subroto Pal, a member of the family.
The preliminary report released on Saturday by the State Emergency Operation Centre of Odisha's Special Relief Commissioner said 17 coaches of these two trains have been de-railed and severely damaged and 238 people killed and around 900 injured. The accident took place at around 7 am at Bahanaga Bazar Station in Balasore district of the state.
The report said all the injured and trapped passengers have been rescued.
Several NDRF teams, five ODRAF units and 24 Fire Services and Emergency Units are engaged in rescue operations.
Over 100 medical teams with paramedical staff along with medicines have been mobilized to the accident site for medical treatment, the statement said.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) DG Atul Karwal told ANI that nine teams of NDRF - more than 300 rescuers - are working in coordination with SDRF and other agencies in rescue efforts.
"The force with which the three trains collided with each other resulted in several coaches getting crushed and being in a mangled condition there. It is a challenge to cut through them and get inside to ensure that the live victims are not affected," he said.
"We are hopeful that as we work through the day today and clear more coaches, we will find more live people. We are working with all the forces who are on the ground with total coordination. We hope that this operation will be completed by today evening," he added.
Over 200 ambulances were engaged in moving the injured to hospitals in Soro, Balasore, Bhadrak and Cuttack.
Thirty buses have been engaged for moving stranded passengers. The Odisha government is providing free transport facilities for stranded passengers of Odisha and West Bengal to their destinations.
Free medical treatment is being provided to injured persons at government and private hospitals in the State.
Locals in Balasore pitched in to help the accident victims. They also queued up to donate blood for the injured.
"Injured people are being brought here. I felt that I should donate blood. I hope it will save some lives. I appeal to youth to come and donate their blood," said Sudhanshu, a local resident.
"I donated blood, my friends also donated the blood. I pray that everyone goes to their homes safely," said Vibhuti Sharan, also a local resident.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has announced an assistance amount of Rs 5 lakh for the family of deceased and Rs 1 lakh for injured in Balasore train accident.
Odisha Chief Minister reviewed the situation with senior officials.
Odisha Chief Secretary also discussed the situation with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin through virtual mode.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami cancelled all the cultural programmes and road shows to be organized in Champawat the completion of one year of his victory in the assembly elections
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann offered his condolences to the bereaved families who lost their close ones' in Balasore's tragic rail accident and prayed for the recovery of the injured.
DMK announced that all events scheduled in the state today for the birth centenary of former CM M Karunanidhi stand cancelled.
Only CM MK Stalin would pay tribute to Kalaignar Statue and Kalaignar Memorial, the rest of all public meetings and events have been cancelled, the party said.
The Konkan Railway officials informed that the flagging off ceremony of the Goa-Mumbai Vande Bharat Express will not take place today in the wake of Odisha train accident.
The South Eastern Railway has cancelled 33 trains and diverted 36 trains to other routes.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed Mi-17 helicopters for the evacuation of deceased and injured in the Odisha triple train accident. Army teams have been deployed to assist in the evacuation and treatment of injured citizens.