The train derailment in eastern India that killed more than 300 people and injured hundreds more was caused by an error in the electronic signaling system that led a train to wrongly change tracks, India’s railways minister said on Sunday.
’’Who has done it and what is the reason will come out of an investigation,” Ashwini Vaishnaw said in an interview with New Delhi Television network.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
The explanation came as authorities worked to clear the mangled wreckage of the two passenger trains that derailed on Friday night in Balasore district of eastern Odisha state, in one of the country’s deadliest rail accidents in decades.
The Press Trust of India news agency earlier reported that preliminary investigations revealed that a signal was given to the Coromandel Express to enter the main track line but the signal was later taken off. The train entered another line, known as the loop line, and crashed into a goods train parked there, PTI said.
Fifteen bodies were recovered on Saturday evening and efforts continued overnight as heavy cranes were used to remove an engine that had settled on top of a rail car. No bodies were found in the engine and the work was completed on Sunday morning, said Sudhanshu Sarangi, director-general of fire and emergency services in Odisha.
The accident occurred at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is focusing on the modernization of the British colonial-era railroad network in India, which has become the world’s most populous country with 1.42 billion people.
Despite government efforts to improve rail safety, several hundred accidents occur every year on India’s railways, the largest train network under one management in the world.
Chaotic scenes erupted on Friday night as rescuers climbed atop the wrecked trains to break open doors and windows using cutting torches to try to save people who were trapped inside the rail cars.
Modi visited the crash site on Saturday to examine the relief effort and talk to rescue officials. He also visited a hospital where he asked doctors about the treatment being given to the injured, and spoke to some of the patients.
Modi told reporters he felt the pain of those who suffered in the accident. He said the government would do its utmost to help them and strictly punish anyone found responsible.
Ten to 12 coaches of one train derailed, and debris from some of the mangled coaches fell onto a nearby track. The debris was hit by another passenger train coming from the opposite direction, causing up to three coaches of the second train to also derail, said Amitabh Sharma, a Railroad Ministry spokesperson.
In 1995, two trains collided near New Delhi, killing 358 people in one of the worst train accidents in India. In 2016, a passenger train slid off the tracks between the cities of Indore and Patna, killing 146 people.
Most train accidents in India are blamed on human error or outdated signaling equipment.
More than 12 million people ride 14,000 trains across India every day, traveling on 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) of track.
Smashed carriages and corpses: India’s deadly train disasterCarriages perched on top of each other and lines of bodies collected by rescue workers: as dawn broke on Saturday, it revealed the horror of one of ... World News
At least 207 dead, 900 injured in train collision in eastern IndiaAt least 207 people were killed and 900 injured in India after a passenger train derailed and collided with a goods train in Odisha’s Balasore ... World News
Indian PM Modi gets invited to address joint meeting of US Congress on June 22The leaders of the US Congress said on Friday they had invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address a joint meeting of the House of ... World News
India seeks return of girl aged 2, taken away by Germany’s foster care 20 months agoIndia on Friday urged Germany to send back a 2-year-old Indian girl who has been in its foster case system for more than 20 months, saying it is an ... World News
Indian-American teen wins US national spelling beeFifteen months ago, Dev Shah spent a miserable five hours spelling outdoors in chilly, windy, damp conditions at a supersize regional competition in ... Art and culture
United Indian opposition can defeat Modi in 2024: Rahul GandhiIndia’s leading opposition figure Rahul Gandhi denounced Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stranglehold on Indian society on Thursday but expressed ... World News
Saudi FM Prince Faisal meets India’s Jaishankar at BRICS meeting in South AfricaSaudi Arabia’s foreign minister met his Indian counterpart on the sidelines of the ‘Friends of BRICS’ meeting of diplomats in Cape Town on ... Saudi Arabia