Balasore train accident: Over 200 killed, 900 injured in three­-train pile­-up in Odisha; govt announces compensation

Balasore train accident: Over 200 killed, 900 injured in three­-train pile­-up in Odisha; govt announces compensation

Bahanaga Train Accident: A Tragic Disaster That Shook The Nation


On June 2, 2023, a horrific train accident involving three trains occurred near Bahanaga Bazar railway station in Balasore district of Odisha, leaving at least 288 people dead and more than a thousand injured. It was one of the deadliest rail disasters in history and a national tragedy that shocked the entire country.

What Happened?

The accident happened around 7 pm on Friday, when two passenger trains collided on the Howrah–Chennai main line. The passenger trains involved were the 12841 Coromandel Express, which runs between Howrah's Shalimar and MGR Chennai Central stations and the 12864 SMVT Bengaluru–Howrah Superfast Express, which runs between SMVT Bengaluru and Howrah stations.

It was believed that the first train derailed and some of its carriages overturned and ended up on the opposite track where they were struck by the second train. A freight train was also involved in the crash.

The impact of the collision was so severe that many coaches were crushed and mangled beyond recognition. Some of them caught fire and some fell into a nearby canal. The passengers trapped inside the coaches screamed for help as they struggled to escape from the wreckage. Many of them suffered severe injuries and burns. Some of them died on the spot while others succumbed to their injuries later.

How Did The Authorities Respond?

The Indian Railways and the governments of Odisha and West Bengal issued helpline numbers for the relatives of the passengers. According to the Chief Secretary of Odisha, Pradeep Jena, three National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) units, four Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force units, more than 15 fire rescue teams, 100 doctors, 200 police personnel and 200 ambulances were mobilised for the rescue operations. It was reported that four other NDRF teams were on the way to the crash site. Local bus companies assisted in transporting injured passengers.

The rescue operations continued throughout the night and the next day, as the authorities faced several challenges such as darkness, rain, fire, waterlogging and inaccessible terrain. The rescuers used gas cutters, cranes and ropes to cut through the metal and pull out the survivors and bodies from the coaches. The injured passengers were rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment. The bodies of the deceased were sent for post-mortem and identification.

The railways announced compensation of ₹ 10 lakh for families of the deceased and ₹2 lakh for the severely injured and ₹50,000 for those with minor injuries. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, expressed his grief and condolences over the loss of lives and announced an ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh for each of those who have lost their lives due to the accident, ₹50,000 for each seriously injured person from PMNRF (Prime Minister's National Relief Fund). The Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, also announced an ex-gratia of ₹5 lakh for each deceased person's family and free treatment for all injured persons. The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, also announced an ex-gratia of ₹5 lakh for each deceased person's family from West Bengal and free treatment for all injured persons from West Bengal.

The Railway Minister of India, Ashwini Vaishnaw, visited the accident site and met with the officials and survivors. He said that a high-level inquiry has been ordered into the cause of the accident and assured that strict action will be taken against those responsible for any negligence or lapses. He also said that the main focus is on rescue and relief operations and restoring normalcy in rail traffic as soon as possible. He thanked all the agencies involved in the rescue operations for their commendable work.

What Are The Possible Causes Of The Accident?

The exact cause of the accident is yet to be ascertained by the inquiry committee, but some preliminary reports suggest that it could be due to human error or technical failure or both.

Some sources claim that there was a signal failure at Bahanaga Bazar railway station due to which both passenger trains were given green signals to proceed on the same track. This resulted in a head-on collision between them. Some other sources claim that there was a communication gap between the station master and the loco pilots due to which they did not receive any warning or instruction to stop or slow down their trains. Some also allege that there was negligence on part of the railway staff who failed to check or maintain the track conditions or signals properly.

Another possible factor that contributed to the accident was the failure of the indigenous anti-collision technology 'KAVACH', which was installed on both trains. KAVACH is a device that uses radio frequency signals to detect and prevent collisions between trains by automatically applying brakes when they come within a certain distance of each other. However, according to some experts, KAVACH may not have worked properly due to interference from other sources of radio frequency signals in the area, such as mobile phones and towers.

Some experts also point out that there could be some technical faults in the trains or tracks that led to the derailment or collision. They say that there could be issues such as brake failure, wheel fracture, track fracture or rail fracture that could have caused or aggravated the accident. They also suggest that there could be some design flaws or structural weaknesses in the coaches that made them vulnerable to such high-impact crashes. They also question whether there were adequate safety measures or devices such as anti-collision systems or automatic train protection systems installed on these trains or tracks that could have prevented or minimised such accidents.

What Are The Implications Of The Accident?

The accident has raised serious questions about the safety and efficiency of India's railway system, which is one of the largest and busiest in the world. It has exposed several gaps and shortcomings in terms of infrastructure, technology, management and regulation that need to be addressed urgently.

The accident has also highlighted the need for better coordination and cooperation among various agencies involved in railway operations such as railways, state governments, central government, NDRF, police, fire brigade etc.

The accident has also underscored the importance of public awareness and education about railway safety rules and regulations such as not crossing tracks or trespassing railway premises or travelling on rooftops etc.

The accident has also triggered a wave of grief and sympathy among people across India who have expressed their solidarity with
the victims' families and prayed for their recovery.

Conclusion

The Bahanaga train accident is a tragic disaster that shook
the nation and left a deep scar on its collective conscience.
It is a reminder of how precious life is and how fragile it can be. It is also a wake-up call for all stakeholders to take concrete steps to improve railway safety and prevent such accidents in future. It is hoped that justice will be done to those who lost their lives or suffered injuries due to this accident and that lessons will be learned from this tragedy to make Indian railways safer and better for everyone.

Source

(1) 2023 Odisha train collision - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2023_Odisha_train_collision.


(3) Odisha train accident live updates | Main focus on rescue and relief operations, says Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw as death toll rises to 238. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/odisha-train-accident-live-updates-main-focus-on-rescue-and-relief-operations-says-railway-minister-ashwini-vaishnaw-as-death-toll-rises/article66926598.ece.


(5) Horrific Train Accident In Odisha | NDRF & Army Officials On Ongoing Relief & Rescue Operations. https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/horrific-train-accident-in-odisha-ndrf-army-officials-on-ongoing-relief-rescue-operations/ar-AA1c43j9.

(6) Odisha train accident: Here’s the list of cancelled and diverted trains. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/odisha-train-accident-here-s-list-cancelled-and-diverted-trains-178012.
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