Odisha train tragedy: 51 hours later, train movement restored on tracks

The restoration work started 15-17 hours after the tragedy, after a long rescue effort where frontline rescuers had difficulties navigating through the wreckage

Odisha train crash

Odisha train crash

Dhruvaksh Saha New Delhi

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Rebuilding of the broken track infrastructure was completed 51 hours after the deadly train accident in Balasore, and train movement resumed on both tracks late Sunday night, the ministry of railways announced.

"Our goal is to make sure missing persons' family members can find them as soon as possible...our responsibility is not over yet," Union minister for railways Ashwini Vaishnaw told reporters after the restoration work was completed.

The first rake moved through the restored tracks was a rake of BOXN wagons (used for carrying coal) from the Visakhapatnam Port to a steel plant in Rourkela. In the opposite direction, officials said the first train was moved shortly afterwards, which was an empty freight train.

Multiple trains have since moved on these tracks.

The restoration work started 15-17 hours after the tragedy, after a long rescue effort where frontline rescuers had difficulties navigating through the wreckage that the three-train accident had caused.

In what is one of the worst train accidents in India's history – suspected to have happened due to interference with the interlocking mechanism – 288 people were killed, and over 800 people were injured.

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The ministry of railways has recommended an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the incident, Union railways minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced on Sunday.

Keeping in mind the circumstances of the accident and the administrative information that has been received, the Railway Board has recommended a CBI investigation going forward," he told reporters in Bhubaneswar. 

Meanwhile, Railway Board member Jaya Varma Sinha, in New Delhi, told reporters on Sunday that the ministry of home affairs (MHA) is already assisting the Railways in the probe, and preliminary findings of the national transporter indicated a signalling error.

Since the accident, experts have pointed to the shortage of staff and overutilisation of capacity on the Indian Railways network.

The Centre announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh in case of death, Rs 2 lakh towards grievous injuries, and Rs 50,000 for minor injuries. Railway spokesperson Amitabh Sharma said on Sunday that the ministry had processed 285 cases of ex-gratia so far, providing Rs 3.22 crore to families of the deceased and survivors.

First Published: Jun 5 2023 | 1:11 PM IST

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