- By Geeta Pandey
- BBC News, Delhi
At least 238 people have been killed and 650 are injured in a crash involving three trains in India’s eastern Odisha state, officials say.
One passenger train derailed and its coaches fell on to the adjacent track where they were struck by an incoming train on Friday evening. A freight train was stationary.
The death toll is expected to rise, as many are still trapped in the wreckage.
The cause of India’s worst train crash this century is not yet clear.
Officials said several carriages from the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express derailed at about 19:00 (13:30 GMT) in Balasore district, hit a stationary goods train and several of its coaches ended up on the opposite track.
Another train – the Howrah Superfast Express travelling from Yesvantpur to Howrah – then hit the overturned carriages.
“The force with which the trains collided has resulted in several coaches being crushed and mangled. We are trying to cut through the wreckage to reach the passengers. We also have to be careful to not hurt those alive,” Atul Karwal, chief of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) told news agency ANI.
He said this was “the third deadliest crash in the history of Indian railways”.
More than 200 ambulances and hundreds of doctors, nurses and rescue personnel were sent to the scene, the state’s chief secretary Pradeep Jena said.
Sudhanshu Sarangi, director general of Odisha Fire Services, had earlier said 288 had died.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw is at the site of the accident and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit the injured in the hospital later on Saturday.
One male survivor said that “10 to 15 people fell on me when the accident happened and everything went haywire. I was at the bottom of the pile.
“I got hurt in my hand and also the back of my neck. When I came out, I saw someone had lost their hand, someone had lost their leg, while someone’s face was distorted,” the survivor told India’s ANI news agency.
A day of mourning has been announced in the state.
India’s deadly train crashes
- June 1981: Nearly 800 people died when seven of the nine coaches of an overcrowded train fell into a river during a cyclone
- August 1995: At least 350 people are killed when two trains collide 200km (125 miles) from Delhi
- August 1999: Two trains collide near Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) killing at least 285 people
- October 2005: 77 people are killed when a train derails in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh
- November 2016: Nearly 150 people are killed and an equal number are injured when 14 carriages of the Indore-Patna Express train derail near the city of Kanpur
Residents of the neighbouring villages were among the first to reach the site of the accident and start the rescue operation.
Some surviving passengers were seen rushing in to help rescue those trapped in the wreckage.
Local bus companies were also helping to transport wounded passengers.
India has one of the largest train networks in the world with millions of passengers using it daily, but a lot of the railway infrastructure needs improving.
India’s worst train disaster was in 1981, when an overcrowded passenger train was blown off the tracks and into a river during a cyclone in Bihar state, killing at least 800 people.
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