A tragic collision involving three trains occurred on Friday (June 2) in India‘s Balasore district. The rail disaster resulted in the loss of around 261 lives. It also left over 1,000 others injured.

The catastrophe unfolded when a passenger train veered off its track, crashing into an adjacent one. It then collided with a stationary freight train.

The Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express experienced the derailment at around 1900 (1330 GMT). The derailment causing several of its coaches to end up on the opposite track. The overturned carriages were then struck by the Howrah Superfast Express, travelling from Yesvantpur to Howrah.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Chief Atul Karwal states that the collision force has resulted in crushed and mangled coaches.

Th incident has now become the third deadliest crash in the history of Indian railways, according to Karwal.

Rail disaster rescue efforts

Local residents from neighbouring villages were among the first responders. They initiated rescue operations at the accident site. The residents succeeded in rescuing the trapped and injured passengers. However, the severity of their injuries remains uncertain as they receive treatment in nearby hospitals.

The rail disaster has sent shockwaves throughout the nation, with citizens demanding urgent action from authorities to address the long-standing safety concerns plaguing the rail network.

Speaking about the rescue efforts, Inspector General of Operations at the NDRP, Narendra Singh Bundela, disclosed that 17 coaches were severely damaged and derailed and that the government has ordered an inquiry into this grave incident, recognizing the need for a thorough investigation.

India’s infrastructure

India’s extensive railway system has long suffered from aging infrastructure and poor maintenance, which are frequently cited as contributing factors in accidents. 

Despite these challenges, the country has embarked on a significant infrastructure overhaul, investing millions of dollars to modernise transportation links.

Recent endeavours include the inauguration of a major expressway linking New Delhi and Mumbai, as well as ongoing construction of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor aimed at decongesting the railway network. Furthermore, the impending opening of the Chenab Bridge, the world’s tallest railway bridge in Jammu and Kashmir, marks another milestone in India’s infrastructure development.