CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI ■ ■ vijayawada l sunday l june 4, 2023 l `12.00 l PAGES 24 l late city EDITION DEBADATTA MALLICK Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to NDRF personnel at the accident site in Balasore district of Odisha on Saturday; and (below) a view of the pile-up | PTI 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 A t 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 3 A t the same time, 6.55 pm, Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express arrives on the Down line. Derailed Coromandel coaches hit rear parts of the Howrah-bound train 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 5 L ocals 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 critical; harrowing scenes as desperate Relatives look for their near and dear ones; Odisha govt observes day-long state mourning; Modi visits accident site, says guilty will be punished @ 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 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 . Its derailed coaches hit the Bengaluru-Howrah Daily Superfast Express which was passing by . 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- Howrah 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 occurred between Bahanaga level crossing and the station. I was waiting at the other side of the crossing gate when I saw Coromandel Express climb up the 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 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 pressed 200 ambulances, 20 fire fighting teams, four teams of Odisha disaster rapid action force and three teams of NDRF in the rescue and relief operations. The Odisha government observed Saturday as a day of state mourning. 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 punished,” he assured. INSIDE: NO KAVACH ON BOTH THE ILL-FATED EXPRESS TRAINS: p7 Limbless bodies, bloodbath on rail tracks terrified me, recounts survivor KV Sailendra, P h a n i n d r a Pa pa s a n i @ Rajamahendravaram/Vijayawada From soldiers who were returning home for holidays to a group of exuberant families who were heading to Rajamahendravaram to attend a wedding, and many like them were travelling on the Coromondal Express that met with a deadly accident on Friday night. Even as efforts are on to trace the whereabouts of hundreds of passengers, several Andhrabound survivors, who escaped unscathed, narrated their horrifying tales of the ill-fated night. Meet Srimantha Sumantha, a 36-year-old carpenter from Survivors of accident reach Vijayawada station on Saturday I Prasant Madugula Kolkata. He was travelling from Satraganchi (SRC) railway station for his carpentry works in Rajamahendravaram after a brief holiday at home. “After we crossed Balasore station, there was a jolt all of a sudden. The lights began to flicker. I heard a loud noise with columns of smoke filling the air. The next moment, I was on the ground,” said Srimantha, who was travelling in a three-tier AC coach. “I struggled to stand on my feet as passengers fell upon each other. They were crying for help. Gathering all my strength, I slowly dragged myself out of the toppled compartment. I told myself that I had to survive and meet my children, wife, and parents. The accident spot looked like a graveyard with limbless bodies scattered on the tracks. My family arranged a taxi. I travelled back to Kolkata post midnight,” the migrant worker shared his ordeal even as he P4 shrieked in fear. Srikakulam man dies, whereabouts of 141 people yet to be traced State joins ops 2 50 medical teams with MROs deployed ambulances sent to accident spot Chopper on standby at Bhubaneswar airport As many as 571 Andhrabound passengers were travelling on both Coromandel Express and Yesvantpur Express B Satyanarayana, Education minister Helpline numbers Visakhapatnam 08912-746330 08912-744619 Vijayawada 0866 2576924 Rajahmundry 08832420541 Samalkot 7780741268 24/7 Nellore 08612342028 Ongole 7815909489 Gudur 08624250795 Eluru 08812232267 “Of those injured, nine have been shifted to Visakhapatnam for better treatment, and two The state government on Sat- others have been taken to Apolurday night confirmed lo hospital in Bhuthe first casualty from baneswar,” the minisAndhra in the Odisha ter stated. He added train tragedy. The dethat officials received ceased has been idenaround 30 phototified as Gurumurthi, Of the 11 identified graphs of unidentified Andhra-bound who hailed from San- passengers injured deceased passengers. thabommali in However, it is yet to be in the mishap, Srikakulam. identified if they seven have been According to IT hailed from Andhra shifted to Vizag for better Minister Gudivada Pradesh. treatment, and Amar nath, GuruSpeaking to reporttwo others have murthi died while uners in Visakhapatnam, been rushed to dergoing treatment at Education minister a hospital in Balasore Apollo hospital in Botcha Satyanarayana Bhubaneswar district in Odisha. said, “As many as 571 The minister, who Gudivada Amarnath, Andhra-bound passenIT minister interacted with the ingers were travelling jured passengers unon both Coromandel dergoing treatment at Express and YesvantSMMC Hospital in Balasore, pur Express, which met with said that 11 Andhra-bound pas- an accident on Friday. The sengers injured in the mishap whereabouts of 141 passengers p4 were identified. are yet to be traced.” E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @ Visakhapatnam Infra failure and human error behind tragedy B AN B U S ELV AN @ 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. This newspaper has accessed a copy of the inspection report. 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. express read Naidu calls on Shah, over ‘alliance talks’ Vijayawada: TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu called on Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president JP Nadda in Delhi on Saturday. The meet assumes significance as it is the first meeting between Naidu and Shah after the TDP snapped ties with the BJP by walking out of the NDA government in 2018 | P4 W I T H T H I S I SS U E Hemant Kumar Rout Trees of Life PLUS 12 PAGES
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