Rail disaster kills at least 288 in India: "those responsible » identified

Steph Deschamps / June 5, 2023

India's Minister of Railways announced on Sunday that the cause and perpetrators of the country's worst rail disaster in decades had been identified, and pointed to an electronic signalling system.


We have identified the cause of the accident and the people responsible for it," Indian Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told news agency ANI on Sunday, adding that it was "not appropriate" to divulge further details before the final investigation report.


The provisional death toll from Friday's three-train collision near Balasore, in the eastern state of Odisha, is at least 288.


According to the Minister, "the change that occurred during electronic interlocking was the cause of the accident", referring to a complex set of signals that manage track traffic to prevent trains from colliding.


The culprit and the manner in which the accident occurred will be discovered after a proper investigation," he added.


Confusion reigns at this stage, but the daily Times of India, citing the preliminary investigation report, said on Sunday that "human error" could have caused the collision between three trains.


The Coromandel Express, linking Calcutta to Madras, had been given the green light to run on the main track on Friday, but was diverted due to human error on a track where a freight train was already running, according to the newspaper.


The passenger train then collided with the freight train at a speed of around 130 km/h. Three cars then fell onto the adjacent track, striking the rear of an express train running between Bangalore and Calcutta. This collision caused the most damage, adds the Times, citing the preliminary report.

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