Approximately 50 people are thought dead and hundreds injured after three trains collided in India on Friday evening, according to a local official, in what has been described as a “violent” crash.
Two passenger trains and a goods train collided in an accident in the city of Balasore in Odisha state, according to a video statement by state chief secretary Pradeep Jena.
In an interview with CNN affiliate News18, he added, “We have received reports suggesting that the death toll is approximately 50, while the number of injured individuals exceeds 300.”
Local authorities say rescue teams have been dispatched to the site of the crash, and efforts include more than 115 ambulances and several fire service units.
Authorities have yet to look at the cause of the multi-train accident as their main priority is rescue operations, Jena told News18. “We are only working (at) sending additional doctors, ambulances, buses, so all those things we are doing so we have not thought of asking what happened, how it happened,” he said.
Jena earlier warned that more resources were needed to help the injured. “Nearly 50 ambulances have reported but the injured appear far too many. Large no (number) of buses being mobilized to shift injured to hospital,” he wrote on Twitter.
One of trains involved in the accident is the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel express, carrying passengers from West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal, said on Twitter. The train travels through India’s east coast, between West Bengal’s capital Kolkata to the South Indian city of Chennai.
The crash has shocked the country, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeting his condolences.
“Distressed by the train accident in Odisha. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. Rescue ops are underway at the site of the mishap and all possible assistance is being given to those affected,” he wrote.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said he will visit the site of the accident on Saturday morning to review the situation, the department said.
India’s Minister for Railways, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology announced that about $12,136 will be provided as compensation to victims’ families in the case of death, and $2,427 will be provided for individuals with grievous injuries, and $606 will be given to people with minor injuries from the accident.
India’s extensive rail network suffers from aging infrastructure and poor maintenance – factors that are often responsible for accidents.
In 2021, some 16,431 people were killed in nearly 18,000 railway accidents across the country. “Majority (67.7%) of railway accident cases were reported (as) ‘Fall from trains /collision with people on track,” according to a 2021 report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
One of the most deadly incidents of recent years occurred in November 2016, when more than 140 people were killed after several train cars derailed in northern Uttar Pradesh state.
The following November, at least 39 people died and 50 others were seriously injured in a train derailment in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.