India Blames Signal Failure for Train Tragedy With 300 Deaths

Indian officials said that, based on what they know so far, the train accident that killed nearly 300 people on Friday was caused by a broken signal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that those guilty would be punished.

Ashwini Vaishnaw, India’s railway minister, said on Sunday that the government had “found out what happened and who was to blame.” Early information suggested that the three-train crash near Balasore station in the eastern state of Odisha was caused by a problem with the “electronic interlocking” system. This system controls how trains move.

A government study says that a southbound passenger train called the Coromandel Express got the wrong signal and moved to a backup track, where it crashed into a stationary goods train. The wrecked cars were then hit by a third passenger train going north.

At least 275 people died in the crash, and more than 800 were hurt. It was India’s worst train accident in more than 20 years. Pradeep Jena, the chief secretary of Odisha, said that the rescue action was done on Sunday evening.

During a Saturday visit to the spot, Modi said, “The government will do everything it can to help treat the hurt.” “Those who are found guilty will be punished severely.”

Several leaders of the opposition blamed Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party for the accident. They said that the government wasn’t investing enough in train safety in the area and asked Vaishnaw to step down. The minister said that he was focused on helping with the rescue effort and that “now is not the time to play politics.”

He said that the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation, which looks into criminal cases, had been asked by the officials to look into the accident.

The tweet below says “Ashwini Vaishnaw stated that a technical glitch with the signaling system has been identified as the cause of Friday’s devastating train crash”

Modi has made it a top priority to improve the country’s huge train network, which has some old parts. The system was built in the 1800s and is very important for moving people and things around a country with 1.4 billion people.

Before the accident, Modi was going to open a new fast train on Saturday in western India. But an automated safety system that was put in place last year to stop accidents from happening had not yet been put in place on the eastern Indian road where the crash happened on Friday.

There have been a number of terrible train crashes that the country has had to deal with. Since 1995, when more than 350 people died in a crash in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Friday’s case was the deadliest since then. In 2016, more than 150 people died when a train wrecked in the same state.

A government study found that the number of accidents had gone down from more than 800 a year in the early 1970s to just 22 in 2021. A rail safety audit done by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India last year found that train derailments were the most common cause of recent accidents. The audit also found that spending on track repair had gone down since 2017.

On Friday, the trains were full of migrant workers and their families going between their homes in states like West Bengal in the east and places like Chennai and Bengaluru in the south, where many people go to look for work.

Passenger Brahma Das told the Times of India, “I still can’t believe I’m alive.” “I had to crawl on a passenger’s bloody body to get off the train when it was dark. Nothing was visible. It was smokey everywhere.”

Over the weekend, hundreds of rescue workers, volunteers, and military members worked in at least 35C heat to move the injured and clear the tracks of debris. Because hospitals and morgues were full, nearly 200 bodies were moved to a nearby school, where people from all over India came to try to find their lost relatives.

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“The heat has started to break down the bodies,” Choturam Chowdhury told the Indian Express. She had come to the school from West Bengal to find two cousins who were going to work in Chennai. “Many looks can’t be recognized.I’m not sure what I’ll say when I get back home.”

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