We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.


More than 280 dead and hundreds injured in India triple train crash

Doctors and medical staff were rushed to the accident site.

LAST UPDATE | 3 Jun 2023

AT LEAST 288 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in a horrific three-train collision in India, the country’s deadliest rail accident in more than 20 years.

The rescue effort has been declared over.

Wreckage debris was piled high at the crash site near Balasore, in the eastern state of Odisha, where some carriages had been tossed far from the tracks and others flipped over entirely.

There was confusion about the exact sequence of events, but reports cited railway officials as saying that a signalling error sent the Coromandal Express running south from Kolkata to Chennai onto a side track.

It slammed into a stationary goods train and the wreckage derailed an express running north from India’s tech hub Bengaluru to Kolkata that was passing the site.

Residents nearby rushed to help the victims even before emergency services arrived.

Researcher Anubhav Das was in the last carriage of one of the trains when he heard “screeching, horrifying sounds coming from a distance”.

His coach stayed upright and he jumped out unhurt after it ground to a halt.

“I saw bloodied scenes, mangled bodies and one man with a severed arm being desperately helped by his injured son,” the 27-year-old told AFP.

“I lost count of the bodies before leaving the site. Now I feel almost guilty.”

people-inspect-the-site-of-passenger-trains-that-derailed-in-balasore-district-in-the-eastern-indian-state-of-orissa-saturday-june-3-2023-rescuers-are-wading-through-piles-of-debris-and-wreckage Alamy Alamy

“There were severed arms, legs, and even some partially severed heads – while the unluckier ones died in pain, too much pain,” said Hiranmay Rath.

Over the next few hours the 20-year-old saw “more death and grief” than he could have “ever imagined”, he told AFP.

The rescue effort was declared over today after emergency personnel had combed the mangled wreckage for survivors and laid scores of bodies out under white sheets beside the tracks.

“All the dead bodies and injured passengers have been removed from the accident site,” said an official from the Balasore emergency control room.

rescuers-work-at-the-site-of-passenger-trains-that-derailed-in-balasore-district-in-the-eastern-indian-state-of-orissa-saturday-june-3-2023-rescuers-are-wading-through-piles-of-debris-and-wreckag Alamy Alamy

Sudhanshu Sarangi, director general of Odisha Fire Services, said the death toll stood at 288 but was expected to go higher, potentially approaching 380.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the crash site and injured passengers being treated in hospital and said “no one responsible” for the train crash would be spared.

“It’s a sad moment,” he told state broadcaster Doordarshan. “I pray that we get out of this sad moment as soon as possible.”

rescuers-work-at-the-site-of-passenger-trains-accident-in-balasore-district-in-the-eastern-indian-state-of-orissa-saturday-june-3-2023-rescuers-are-wading-through-piles-of-debris-and-wreckage-to Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Third-worst ever

India has one of the world’s largest rail networks and has seen several disasters over the years, the worst of them in 1981 when a train derailed while crossing a bridge in Bihar and plunged into the river below, killing between 800 and 1,000 people.

The crash ranks as its third-worst, and the deadliest since 1995, when two express trains collided in Firozabad, near Agra, killing more than 300 people.

Odisha state’s chief secretary Pradeep Jena confirmed that about 900 injured people had been hospitalised.

Rescue teams including from the National Disaster Response Force and the military were deployed, while the railways ministry announced an investigation.

Authorities said every hospital between the crash site and the state capital Bhubaneswar around 200 kilometres away was receiving victims, with 200 ambulances – and even buses – deployed to transport them.

At Bhadrak District Hospital, bloodied and shocked survivors were receiving treatment in crowded wards.

The disaster comes despite new investments and upgrades in technology that have significantly improved railway safety in recent years.

World leaders

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak offered thoughts and prayers to the victims via Twitter.

Sunak, who is of Indian descent, wrote: “My deepest condolences to the family and friends of those killed, and my heartfelt support and admiration to the survivors and those working tirelessly to respond.”

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf also expressed condolences on Twitter, writing that it was “hard to comprehend the scale of the tragedy”.

“My sympathies and prayers to all of those mourning the loss of their loved ones and to our Indian community in Scotland who will be rocked by this tragedy,” Yousaf said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter: “On behalf of myself and the people of Ukraine, I express my deepest condolences to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all relatives and friends of those killed in the train accident in the state of Odisha.

“We share the pain of your loss. We wish a speedy recovery for all those injured.”

Pope Francis also voiced immense sadness at the disaster.

The pontiff said he was “deeply saddened” by the “immense loss of life” caused by the collision.

“Entrusting the souls of the deceased to the loving mercy of the Almighty, (Pope Francis) sends heartfelt condolences to those who mourn their loss,” senior Vatican cardinal Pietro Parolin said in a telegram published by the Holy See.

“His Holiness likewise offers prayers for the many injured and for the efforts of the emergency service personnel,” said the telegram, which was addressed to the apostolic nuncio in India, Leopoldo Girelli.

French President Emmanuel Macron sent his condolences to India’s president and prime minister, saying in a tweet that his “thoughts are with the families of the victims”.

© AFP 2023

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel