Signal Failure May Have Caused Deadly Train Crash in India
The signal failure caused a train to switch tracks and hit a freight train in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, creating an accident involving a second passenger train.
Authorities had to work hard to clear the debris of two passenger trains that derailed on Friday night in Odisha's Balasore district in one of the country's deadliest train accidents in decades.
An Odisha government statement revised the death toll to 288 people on Sunday. Around one thousand were injured on Saturday night, according to officials.
Then, on Saturday morning, the Indian army assisted the police and the National Disaster Response Force, as well as other rescue teams, to search for survivors.
"We are not very hopeful of rescuing anyone alive," A chief of Odisha's fire service, Sudhanshu Sarangi said.
Jaya Verma Sinha, a senior railway official said that preliminary investigations revealed that a signal had been given to the Coromandel Express high-speed train to run on the main line, but the signal was later changed, and the train instead entered the adjacent circular track, and hit a train laden with iron ore.
"According to preliminary findings, there was some problem with signaling," Jaya Varma Sinha of the Indian railway board told local media.
Varma said that a more detailed investigation would reveal whether the fault was human or technical. "We are still waiting for a detailed report from the Railway Safety Commissioner,"
The collision flipped the Coromandel Express wagon onto another track, causing the Yesvantpur-Howrah Express coming from the opposite direction to also derail, he said.
The passenger train carrying 2,296 people was not traveling too fast. Trains carrying goods are often parked on adjacent ring tracks so that the main line is safe for passing trains.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has modernized India's British colonial-era railway network, but despite the government's efforts to improve safety, several hundred accidents occur each year.
Modi, who called the incident "painful", visited the accident site on Saturday. Whoever is found guilty in this incident will be "severely punished," he said.
"Words cannot describe my deep sorrow. We are committed to providing all possible assistance to those affected," Modi stated in a tweet.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he was "shocked and saddened" by the crash. "My thoughts are with the victims and their families," he tweeted.