U.S. Secretary of Defence LloYd Austin begins two-day India visit The US is keen to bolster defence ties with India, especially in the area of technology transfer for the co-development of military hardware kochi l monday l june 05, 2023 l `9.00 l PAGES 12 l late city EDITION Procurement of armed drones on agenda On Monday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Austin will discuss a proposal by US defence maker General Electric to share technology for co-development of fighter jet engines as well as India’s plan to buy 30 MQ-9B armed drones from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc for $3 bn. 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 ‘Change in e-interlocking system caused crash’ rly Recommends CBI probe; mainline junction had developed a snag before the mishap; persons responsible for accident identified B i j o y Ke ta n P r a d h a n & He m a n t Ku m a r R o u t Mainline tracks repaired, says RailwaY minister @ Bhubaneswar / Bahanaga IN a curious turn of events, the Indian Railway Board on Sunday evening recommended that the Centre hand over the Bahanaga Bazar train accident investigation to the CBI. The announcement came from Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who earlier in the day had said the root cause of the accident and the people responsible for it had been identified. “It happened due to a change made in the electronic interlocking and point machine,” he told reporters at the accident site in the morning. However, in a hurriedly convened media conference at Rail Sadan, headquarters of the East Coast Railway in Bhubaneswar, after visiting survivors undergoing treatment at SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack, Vaishnaw said the case needed further investigation. “Keeping in view the situation in which the accident took place and all the administrative information that has been received so far, this case is being considered for further investigation. Recommendation is being made by the Railway Board to hand the matter over to the CBI,” Vaishnaw said. The request for CBI probe has seemingly brought the sabotage angle into picture. A senior Railway official said prima facie the accident appears to be an act of sabotage, which is now seen as a criminal act. The Two days after one of India’s worst train accidents at Bahanaga Bazar in Odisha’s Balasore district, two railway tracks have been made fit to carry trains after bulldozers and cranes removed capsized coaches on the main trunk line connecting eastern and southern India. The govt on Sunday said both the Up and Down railway tracks at Balasore accident site have been repaired. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw tweeted that track linking Up-line has been restored and overhead electification work has also started Restoration of train tracks in progress at the accident site in Balasore on Sunday | DEBADATTA MALLICK CBI will be the competent agency to investigate the criminal aspect of the case. Earlier in the day, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which officially was stated to be on the treatment of injured passengers. The chief minister assured the prime minister that all possible steps are being taken to provide best of treatment to them. According to some railway officials, human error is the reason behind the crash. “It was entirely a human error. We have identified it and found the involvement of two persons,” a senior official told this paper on condition of anonymity . The Bahanaga Bazar station, where the derailment occurred, has two mainline tracks. Up and Down lines for trains to pass through and two loop lines used for temporary halt to allow smooth movement of trains on the main lines. After a goods train was allowed to stay on the Up loop line, the signal was given for Coromandel Express on the Up mainline. Usually after , a train is allowed into loop by switching on the panel, it moves a piece of track from mainline to loop line. Once the train is in, the switch is moved back in the route relay panel to ensure that the moved piece of track is re- turned to its original position. But here, the track piece did not return from the loop line to the mainline and the point was towards the loop line. Though the issue reflected on the panel at the station and a red light flashed for a few seconds, the station manager present at that time somehow missed it. By the time he saw the panel, there was nothing abnormal and he gave the signal. As the piece of track, according to sources, had not returned to its original position, Coromandel Express dashed into the stationary iron ore-laden freight train at a speed of 130 ● More on P7 kmph. AI cams all set to get cracking from today E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @T’Puram politics apart Union Home Minister Amit Shah greets Health Minister Veena George during the silver jubilee celebrations of Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Kochi on Sunday | A Sanesh | P4 Bikers and drivers beware! The Motor Vehicle Department will start issuing challans for traffic offences detected by AI cameras from 8am on Monday . The cameras will primarily be used for detecting offences such as bikers not using helmets and overloading, car passengers not wearing seat belts, drivers using mobile phones, jumping red signals, overspeeding, and dangerous and illegal parking, Transport Minister Antony Raju said on Sunday . However, there will not be any penalty if the third passenger on the bike is a child under 12, the minister said. The state has written to the Union government demanding amendment of the Motor Vehicle Act to allow children to travel as third passeng er, due to public demand. “There has been no response from the Centre. The state will take a final decision based on the Centre’s response. Till then there shall be no penalty for overloading if the third passenger is a child of less than 12 years,” said Raju. As per the rule, only two persons are allowed to travel in a bike. ● More on P4 SW monsoon winds fail to touch Kerala U nn i k r i s h n a n S @ T’Puram The southwest monsoon’s landfall over the Indian mainland has been delayed further, signalling a weak start to the rainy season. From its earlier forecast of June 4, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) now anticipates a delay of three to four days. Despite bringing rain to the Arabian Sea, the monsoon winds have failed to touch Kerala, leaving weather exper ts concerned about a delayed onset. Satellite images have revealed the presence of rain clouds over the Arabian Sea, but their impact on the mainland has been minimal thus far. After sweeping through Lakshadweep, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka, the development of a cyclonic system in Arabian Sea has impeded the progress of the westerly winds, which are crucial to the onset of the monsoon in Kerala. ● More on P4 Toll revised down to 275; 88 bodies identified Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Sunday revised the train accident’s toll to 275 from 288, and put the number of injured at 1,175. Chief secretary P K Jena said this is because some bodies were counted twice — at the accident spot and then again at the hospital. After verification and submission of the report by the district collector, the final toll in the tragedy has been put at 275, he clarified. Jena said 88 bodies have been identified so far and 78 handed over to their families Tribals turned first responders, saved 200 hospitals. Before rescue teams could arrive, around 58 tribals Phulamani Hembrum was of two hamlets — Krushnapur cooking in her courtyard when and Kamaripur — were among she heard a big bang on Friday the first responders who utievening. She stepped out to find lised their resources to save the a cloud of smoke engulfing lives of passengers of the illthe railway tracks, about fated Coromandel Express 200 metres from her that was involved in one house. And then the of the country’s deadliarea plunged into darkest rail disasters at Baness. Before she could hanaga Bazar Station. They rescued over 200 realise what happened, passengers and reshe heard screams. trieved dead bodies Phulamani and her from damaged coaches. husband Raghu ran toSoon teams of the Odiwards the site and what they saw left them I climbed on the sha Disaster Rapid Acoverturned tion Force, fire services numbed. coaches and “For the first time in and National Disaster pulled out my life, I saw so many Response Force arrived bodies which dead people. The bodies at the site. were missing Maheswar Kisku, anwere soaked in blood. hands and legs other tribal, recalls reThere were dismemMaheswar Kisku, moving mutilated bodbered body parts strewn a tribal man ies. “I climbed on the across. I gathered couroverturned coaches and age and ran towards a derailed coach where a little pulled out dead bodies which girl was hanging from the win- were missing hands and legs. dow. She had injuries all over The scene was so horrific, it reher body Her mother managed plays in front of my eyes even . to get out. I took them to my after two days of the incident,” house, gave them water,” said he said. The tribal families were the 30-year-old tribal woman lucky the derailed coaches did not hit their houses which are who rescued six children. The Hembrum couple did not barely 200 metres from the site. stop there. They went on to res- “Anything was possible but we cue another 30 passengers and were lucky,” said his wife even arranged transport for Manjulata. He m a n t Ku m a r R o u t @ Bahanaga
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