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 ■ ■ visakhapatnam 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 de. railed 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 cap- sized 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 waiting at the other side of the crossing gate when I saw Coro- guv nazeer sends condolences to bereaved families Andhra Pradesh Governor S Abdul Nazeer on Saturday expressed grief and anguish over the train accident in Odisha. He condoled the bereaved family members. Meanwhile, Vijayawada division in a press release said, “Officials from all departments are continuously monitoring the situation and working in shifts from our command control centre at the divisional office.” Divisional railway manager Shivendra Mohan has nominated senior divisional commercial manager Rambabu Vavilapalli to disseminate information regarding passengers from the division mandel 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 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 Infra failure, 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 re- 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 State joins ops Limbless bodies, bloodbath on rail 2 tracks terrified me, recounts survivor 50 medical teams with MROs deployed ambulances sent to accident spot 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. Chopper on standby at Bhubaneswar airport Helpline numbers Visakhapatnam 08912-746330 08912-744619 Vijayawada 0866 2576924 Rajahmundry 08832420541 Samalkot 7780741268 24/7 Nellore 08612342028 Ongole 7815909489 Gudur 08624250795 Eluru 08812232267 port 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. Naidu calls on Shah, Nadda over ‘alliance talks’ in Delhi E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @ Vijayawada TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu called on Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president JP Nadda in New Delhi on Saturday evening. The meeting 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. It is learnt that Naidu discussed the political alliances with the BJP and Jana Sena Party besides , explaining about the political situation in the State. While BJP and Jana Sena Party are already in alliance, the reiteration of JSP chief Pawan Kalyan that he would not let Opposition votes split indicates a possible electoral alliance between the TDP, BJP and Jana Sena. Sources say the talks were held on both the parties working together in Telangana, for which the election schedule P4 was released. Srikakulam man dies, whereabouts of 141 people yet to be traced Speaking to reporters in Visakhapatnam, Education minister Botcha Satyanarayana The state government on Sat- said, “As many as 571 Andhraurday night confirmed the bound passengers were travelfirst casualty from Andhra in ling on both Coromandel Exthe Odisha train tragedy The press and Yesvantpur Express, . deceased has been identified which met with an accident as Gurumurthi, who hailed on Friday. The whereabouts from Santhabommali in of 141 passengers are yet to be Srikakulam. traced.” According to IT “Of the 482 AndMinister Gudivada hra-bound passenAmar nath, Gurugers who boarded murthi died while Coromandel Express, undergoing treat267 were safely resOf the 11 identified ment at a hospital in cued, 20 sustained Andhra-bound Balasore district in passengers injured minor injuries and Odisha. 82 people didn’t take in the mishap, The minister, who up the journey How. seven have been interacted with the ever, there has been shifted to Vizag for better injured passengers no response from 113 treatment, and undergoing treatpassengers so far. Of two others have ment at SMMC Hosthe 89 passengers been rushed to pital in Balasore, who boarded Yessaid that 11 Andhra- Apollo hospital in vantpur Express at Bhubaneswar bound passengers invarious railway stajured in the mishap Gudivada Amarnath, tions in Andhra, 49 IT minister were identified. “Of were safely rescued, those injured, nine two suffered minor have been shifted to injuries, 10 didn’t Visakhapatnam for better travel. There has been no retreatment, and two others sponse from 28 passengers,” have been taken to Apollo hos- the minister elaborated, and pital in Bhubaneswar,” the added that full details of pasminister stated. He added sengers from the state would that officials received around be known by Sunday . 30 photographs of unidentiMeanwhile, Chief Minister fied deceased passengers. Jagan Mohan Reddy who has , However, it is yet to be identi- been closely monitoring the fied if they hailed from And- situation, held a high-level p4 hra Pradesh. meet earlier in the day . E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @ Visakhapatnam express read Fresh violence erupts in Manipur, 16 hurt Guwahati: Despite Home minister Shah’s call to maintain peace in Manipur, and the deployment of over 35,000 personnel of Army, there has been no letup in violence. Sixteen were injured when suspected militants attacked two villages in Imphal West on Friday| p8 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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04-06-2023 of The New Indian Express-Vishakapatnam