UPDATE - Days after deadly crash, another train derails in Indian state

UPDATE - Days after deadly crash, another train derails in Indian state

Friday's tragic crash in eastern India's Odisha killed and injured hundreds


By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) - Three days after a major train crash in eastern India's Odisha state killed and injured hundreds, a few wagons of a goods train derailed in the same state, officials said on Monday.

Indian Railways said it was not investigating the incident which happened in the Bargarh area of Western Odisha, as it is managed by a private firm, according to a railway spokesman.

"There are reports of some wagons of a locomotive getting off the track. But it is not managed by us, so we are not looking into it," Railway Ministry spokesman Amitabh Sharma told Anadolu.

India's East Coast Railway said all infrastructure, including rolling stock, engine, wagons, train tracks (narrow gauge) are being maintained by the private company.

No damage or casualty has been reported so far.

Monday's incident came after railways said earlier in the day that rail traffic resumed on both up and down lines following a restoration work at the crash site near the Balasore district.

The crash Friday evening in Balasore involving two passenger trains and a freight train killed at least 275 people and injured over 1,000 others in what is regarded as the country's worst rail disaster in recent history.

A preliminary investigation into the accident suggested that an issue related to the signaling system is likely the cause of the three-train crash, the country's Railway Ministry said on Sunday.

A massive rescue operation was immediately launched involving the National Disaster Response Force, the Indian military, and other agencies, which has now concluded.

Indian Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said Sunday that the railway board has recommended that the train accident case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Briefing the media, Jaya Verma Sinha, a senior railway official, told reporters on Sunday that one of the trains -- the high-speed Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express -- crashed with another passenger train, and a freight train was later involved in the accident.

"The train was running at 128 kilometers (80 miles) per hour," she said, adding it rammed into the freight train loaded with iron ore, which was stationary, while the express passenger train took the entire impact.

Sinha said the rear two coaches of the other passenger train, the Howrah Superfast Express, which was passing at the same time on another railway line, were also affected by the derailed Coromandel Express.

Vaishnaw, who visited the site, told a local news agency that the "root cause" and people responsible had been identified.

He said a change in the electronic interlocking system led to the accident, adding: "Who did it and how it was done, the investigation report will reveal that."

The focus is currently on the restoration work, he also noted.

Officials said the electronic interlocking system prevents unnecessary delays and makes rail travel more secure.

Indian Railways have announced a high-level probe into the incident. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reviewed the relief work at the crash site on Saturday, said those found guilty will be severely punished.

On Sunday, Odisha's Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena said the death toll had been revised from 288 to 275 as in some cases, bodies were counted more than once. He added that of the 1,175 injured, 793 have been discharged.

On Monday, Jena said that so far 151 bodies have been identified, while local authorities have now published photos of the deceased online so that their family members can identify them.

- Accountability

As the ruling party is facing heat over the incident, the head of the main opposition Indian National Congress party, Mallikarjun Kharge, on Monday raised several questions on the tragedy.

Today, the most crucial step is to prioritize the installation of mandatory safety standards to ensure safety of our passengers, he said, adding that it is incumbent on the government to ascertain and bring to light the real reasons that caused the grave incident.

​​​​​​​India is no stranger to large railway accidents. In 2016, more than 140 passengers were killed after a train derailed in the northern Uttar Pradesh state.

Several countries have conveyed their condolences over the deadly train crash.

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