280 Killed in Deadliest Train Crash in Decades

On Saturday, rescuers toiled away to search through the wreckage and ruins caused by two derailed passenger trains in India. The accident, which occurred approximately 137 miles southwest of Kolkata on Friday night, resulted in a tragic loss of life with more than 280 killed and around 900 injured. It was one of the most devastating train collisions in the nation in decades.

Desperate to save lives, rescuers used cutting torches to open doors and windows in the more than a dozen crushed rail cars in the hope of freeing survivors trapped inside. During the night, 288 dead bodies were recovered and more than 800 injured passengers were taken to hospitals, many of whom were in critical condition. The search for more victims was still underway, and it was feared that the death toll would rise.

Sudhanshu Sarangi, the director of Odisha’s fire department, stated that it was unlikely that anyone still trapped in the wreckage would be alive. According to Amitabh Sharma, a spokesperson for the railroad ministry, ten to twelve coaches from one train derailed, and some of the debris from the mangled coaches fell onto a nearby track which was then struck by another passenger train that was travelling in the opposite direction, resulting in three more coaches derailing. Press Trust of India reported that a third train carrying freight was also involved, though there was no confirmation from railroad authorities.

Local villagers, along with rescuers and police, contributed to the relief effort by aiding in evacuating people from the site after they heard the loud sound of the train coaches going off the tracks. Rupam Banerjee, a survivor, praised the locals for their assistance, as they not only helped to extricate people but retrieved their luggage and provided them with water.

Vandana Kaleda, another survivor, recalled the chaos inside her coach during the derailment, saying that people were “falling on each other” as the coach shook violently and veered offthe tracks.

The train involved in the crash was the Coromandel Express, travelling from Howrah in West Bengal state to Chennai in Tamil Nadu state. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his sympathies with the bereaved families and said that he had spoken to the railway minister and that all possible assistance was being given.

Regrettably, train accidents in India are all too common, often due to human error or out-of-date signaling equipment. In August 1995, two trains collided near New Delhi, leading to 358 deaths. Meanwhile, in 2016, a passenger train derailed between Indore and Patna, causing the loss of 146 lives. With an estimated 14,000 trains being ridden by 12 million people across India every day over 40,000 miles of track, the need for improved safety measures is clear.