NEW DELHI 04 JUNE 2023 SUNDAY `12 PAGES 24 facebook/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard https://epaper.morningstandard.in Dangerous Crossroads PLUS: 12 PAGES MAGAZINE Field Day in Finland EXCLUSIVE VOICES Finding Method in Madness Trees of Life HOW IT HAPPENED 1 At 3.20 pm on Friday, Coromandel Express bound for Chennai leaves Howrah; passes Khantapara at 6.52 pm. Gets clearance to travel at a speed of 130 km per hour 2 At 6.55 pm, it enters a loopline at Bahanaga Bazar Station at a speed of 128 km per hour, hits a stationary goods train. 21 of its coaches fly off on impact, many of them capsize Bibek Debroy Namrata Joshi Shankkar Aiyar Ravi Shankar Pushpesh Pant Ajai Sahni Sathya Saran Shampa Dhar-Kamath 3 At the same time, 6.55 pm, Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express arrives on the Down line. Derailed Coromandel coaches hit rear portion of the Howrah-bound train It’s All in the Jeans 4 Two coaches of the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express derail on impact. A third coach got damaged but did not derail, a preliminary inspection report said A Treasure of Tales ‘Will Pack My Bags the Day I Stop Learning’ SWAMI SUKHABODHANANDA SPEAKS Quantum Leap in Understanding Self 5 Locals begin rescue operations immediately. As many as 200 ambulances, 20 fire fighting teams, four Odisha disaster rapid action force teams and three NDRF teams join in HORRIFIC PILE-UP TOLL 288 OVER 900 INJURED, AT LEAST 250 OF THEM CRITICALLY; HARROWING SCENES AS DESPERATE RELATIVES LOOK FOR NEAR AND DEAR ONES AMONG BODIES PILED UP ALONGSIDE THE TRACKS; MODI VISITS ACCIDENT SITE, SAYS GUILTY WILL BE PUNISHED HEMANT KUMAR ROUT @ Bahanaga (Odisha) WITH the first light of dawn on Saturday a tragedy of unimagi, nable proportions unfolded at Bahanaga railway station, about 180 km from Bhubaneswar. Amid frantic efforts by the rescue teams to find survivors trapped under the mangled coaches of Coromandel Express and Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, relatives from different parts of West Bengal and Odisha desperately searched for their near and dear ones among piled up bodies alongside the scattered tracks at the station that was a mute witness to one of the worst rail disasters the country has ever seen. There were scenes of chaos and despair as trapped passengers screamed for help but the rescue teams were either unable to move the capsized coaches or cut iron railings due to lack of required machinery and gas cutters. By the time the men and machinery were mobilised, many had already succumbed. As many as 288 passengers were killed and over 900 others injured, at least 250 of them critically after the Coromandel , Express rammed into a stationary goods train near the station and jumped off the track around 7 pm on Friday evening. Its derailed coaches hit the Bengaluru-Howrah Daily Superfast Express which was passing by at the very moment. Of the 21 coaches of Coromandel Express, 15 (B4 to B13 and S1 to S5) capsized and its engine went up and landed on the goods train in the impact of the collision. Two general compartments of the Bengaluru-How- rah Superfast Express also got derailed after some of the capsized coaches of Coromandel Express collided with them. Eyewitnesses said Coromandel Express shook like a snake after hitting the goods train and four of its coaches moved out of the railway station boundary “The derailment oc. curred between Bahanaga level crossing and the station. I was UDHAYANIDHI TO STAY PUT IN ODISHA FOR FEW MORE DAYS TN govt on Saturday night said no Tamil has been identified among the dead or injured in the accident till now. Chief Minister MK Stalin has directed the state team led by ministers Udhayanidhi Stalin and SS Sivasankar to stay in Odisha for a few more days. “Out of 288 dead passengers, only 100 bodies could be identified so far. No Tamil has been found dead,” a TN official camping in Odisha told this newspaper. The CM has also cancelled all programmes planned for the birth centenary celebrations of former CM M Karunanidhi. He announced `5 lakh solatium each to the families of the dead from TN. waiting at the other side of the crossing gate when I saw Coromandel Express climb up the goods train and derail while two bogies of the other train veered off the track after being hit by the flying coaches of the former,” said Kamalakanta Behera, a local resident. People and vehicles, including some auto rickshaws which were halted at both sides of the railway gate, were the first responders. They retrieved the injured passengers and rushed them to the nearby hospitals. Some of the critically injured were taken to district headquarters hospitals at Balasore and Bhadrak while more than 100 were shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack after their condition deteriorated. By the time the Balasore district administration arranged for light and other facilities, the locals had shifted several injured patients to hospitals located on both the sides of the Howrah-Chennai railway line. An auto driver ferried at least 40 times to hospitals to shift injured passengers. The state administration also swung into action and pressed 200 ambulances, 20 fire fighting teams, four teams of Odisha disaster rapid action force (ODRAF) and three teams of national disaster response force (NDRF) in the rescue and relief operations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took a review meeting on the accident at New Delhi, flew down to the crash site in the afternoon to take stock of the situation and inspect the ongoing relief efforts. He was briefed on the accident by railw ay m i n i s t e r A s h w i n i Vaishnaw and education minister Dharmendra Pradhan. The PM interacted with local authorities, disaster relief personnel, and railway officials. “It is a painful incident. The government will leave no stone unturned for the treatment of those injured. Instructions have been issued to probe it from every angle. Those found guilty will be severely punP7 ished,” he assured. FIVE NIGHTMARISH SECONDS HEMANT KUMAR ROUT AND SUDARSAN MAHARANA @ Bahanaga (Odisha) MANIKLAL Tewari was resting on his berth in Coromandel Express when he heard a loud bang around 7 pm on Friday. The Balasore native initially thought it was an explos i o n . Wi t h i n m o m e n t s, everything went dark and his coach was filled with smoke. It all happened in the blink of an eye — a nightmarish five seconds, as he puts it. “The coach had overturned and an iron bar hit my head. It was a matter of five seconds. When I regained my senses, I realised I was bleeding. My side of the window was broken and it was difficult to get out in that moment of near death experience,” Te- wari says, still unable to believe he escaped death. He managed to wriggle out of the window on the other side and saw locals who immediately pulled him out to safety . Not everyone had that stroke of luck. Asit Maity from East Medinipur is frantically looking for five fellow villagers with whom he had boarded the ill-fated train. They were all on their way to Kerala. While he identified one, others are still missing. As a mountain of iron debris piled up at Bahanaga Bazar railway station in what is India’s worst railway disaster involving three trains, cries for help rent the air. Locals and rescue workers even had to walk on body parts strewn across the site. Some of the scenes were too gory to de- scribe as mutilated bodies without head, hands or legs were found on the tracks. Nabin Chandra Soren, living in a thatched house right next to the track where the mishap occurred, rushed out of his house hearing the explosive collision. What he saw left him numbed. “Body of a loco pilot was lying near the boundary of my house. I kept it aside and along with my wife rushed to the tracks to rescue others trapped in the coaches,” Soren said. It was chaos and despair all around as trapped passengers screamed for help but rescue teams were either unable to move the capsized coaches or cut iron railings due to lack of required machinery and gas cutters in the first few hours of the tragedy . INDIA’S DEADLIEST RAIL DISASTERS JUNE 6, 1981 TOLL: 800 A passenger train fell into Bagmati River in Bihar while crossing a bridge AUGUST 20, 1995 TOLL: 305 Purushottam Express collided with stationary Kalindi Express near Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh AUGUST 2, 1999 TOLL: 285 Brahmaputra Mail crashed into stationary Avadh Assam Express at Gaisal station in West Bengal NOVEMBER 26, 1998 TOLL: 212 Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express collided with three derailed coaches of Frontier Golden Temple Mail in Khanna, Punjab Infra failure, human error behind tragedy B A N B U S E LV A N @ Chennai/Bhubaneswar THE initial joint inspection report by Kharagpur railway division officials into the horrific rail tragedy revealed that the track joints were incorrectly positioned, and that the signal panel in the station master’s room failed to synchronise with them at Bahanaga Bazar station. A combination of infrastructure failure and human error may have led to the tragic train accident. While railway officials failed to explain how the locomotive (WAP7), which was pulling the Coromandel Express, ended up perched on top of the adjacent freight train, the joint inspection report indicated that the Coromandel Express, originally meant to run on the mainline, had entered the loopline where the goods train was stationed, traveling at a speed of 128 kmph. This newspaper has accessed a copy of the inspection report. According to the report, the Coromandel Express departed from Khantapara station at 6.52 pm, proceeding along the mainline towards Bhadrak. However, track point 17A was set for the loopline, where a goods train was already stationed. Surprisingly, the signal panel in the station master’s room indicated that the Coromandel Express was assigned to the mainline at its maximum permissible speed, which in the Kharagpur-Bhadrak section stands at 130 kmph. At a speed of 128 kmph, the Coromandel Express veered onto the loopline and collided with the stationary goods train, resulting in the derailment of 21 of its coaches. This raises questions about why the signal panel failed to indicate the loopline setting when the track points were adjusted accordingly . Just when the Coromandel rammed into the goods train, the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast was about to cross the mainline. Some of the derailed coaches of the Coromandel Express fell onto the rear of three coaches of the Howrah-bound train, forcing them to derail as well. Fresh violence erupts in Manipur HC order to study horoscope of rape victim stayed P R A S A N TA M A Z U M D A R @ Guwahati DESPITE Home Minister Amit Shah’s call to maintain peace in Manipur, and the deployment of over 35,000 personnel of Army and paramilitary forces, there has been no letup in violence. Sixteen people were injured when suspected militants attacked two villages — Phayeng and Kangchup Chingkhong – in the Imphal West district on Friday night. The injured were admitted to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences and Raj Medicity in Imphal. Two of them are in critical condition. “Unfortunate simultaneous coordinated attack by heavily armed Kuki terrorists, including suspected PDF of Myanmar, with sophisticated weapons, motors and lethod bombs, continues, injuring 16 in Imphal, Manipur. These must stop. It is economically affecting all people of the state,” Lt General (retired) L Nishikanta Singh tweeted on Saturday . Official sources said a fierce gunfight followed when cops, stationed at the two villages, retaliated. After about four hours, the personnel managed to push the militants to the nearby hills. S H R U T I K A K K A R @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court in a special sitting on Saturday stayed an Allahabad High Court order directing the astrology department of the University of Lucknow to examine the horoscope of an alleged rape victim to ascertain if she is a Manglik. The man who was accused of raping the victim on the false promise of marriage had allegedly backed out after learning that she was a Manglik. Taking suo motu cognisance of the order, a vacation bench of justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Pankaj Mithal issued stay orders but did not express any opinion on the merits of the case. Expressing concern, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia said, “This was totally out of context. What’s this got to do with the subject matter? That apart, it involves so many other features…. This is an infringement of the right to privacy. We don’t want to spell it out. We don’t want to join you on this as to what astronomy has to do. We are only concerned with linking the sub- ject matter to this issue.” According to astrology a per, son born under the influence of Mars (Mangal) is believed to have “Mangal dosh”. Superstitious people consider a marriage between a Manglik and a non-Manglik as inauspicious. Terming the order as disturbing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the HC should not have gone into this aspect.
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