In a major accident, several coaches of the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel express train derailed near the Bahanaga railway station in Odisha's Balasore district on Friday evening, leaving several passengers trapped, with at least 50 reported dead.
According to initial reports, at least four coaches of the express train derailed at Bahanaga station. There was no clarity about the reason for the accident, though some reports said that it took place when the train rammed into a goods train standing at the station, but Railway officials have denied it.
As per a railway spokesperson, about 12 to 15 coaches of Shalimar-Howrah Coromandel Express derailed at Bahanaga station at around 6.51 p.m. and some of the coaches jumped to another track and tbhe Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast (12864) train hit the coaches at the same spot at 6.55 p.m.
At least 50 people were killed and around 100 injured in the accident, sources said.
On the direction of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Revenue Minister Pramila Mallik and Special Relief Commissioner Satyabrata Sahu proceeded towards the accident spot.
Sahu had directed the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) team at Balasore to proceed to the spot immediately for search and rescue operations.
On receiving the information, the Balasore Collector, the SP and other officials rushed to spot to supervise the rescue operation. Railway officials are now there on the spot. About 20 ambulances have been sent to the accident site to transport the passengers to local hospitals, officials said.
Two fire teams were sent from Bhadrak to the spot.
An emergency helpline No +91 6782 262 286 has been opened at Balasore. The Odisha government has directed the fire service DG to rush to the spot and monitor the rescue operation.
Doctors were sent from Balasore Medical College. So far, there are 10 injured passengers at Balasore Medical College, officials said.
All medical college and all hospitals in and around Balasore have been kept on alert. SCB Medical College, Cuttack has also been put on readiness.
Odisha Chief Minister Patnaik told media persons that he had "just reviewed the situation about this truly tragic railway accident" and will be visiting Balasore on Saturday morning.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his grief at the accident.
"Distressed by the train accident in Odisha. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon. Spoke to Railway Minister @AshwiniVaishnaw and took stock of the situation. Rescue ops are underway at the site of the mishap and all possible assistance is being given to those affected", he tweeted.
On his part, Vaishnaw said that he was rushing to Balasore.
"Rushing to the site in Odisha. My prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured and condolences to the bereaved families. Rescue teams mobilised from Bhubaneswar and Kolkata. NDRF, State govt. teams and Airforce also mobilised. Will take all hands required for the rescue ops", he tweeted.
The West Bengal government said it was sending a six-member team to Odisha's Balasore.
A senior state government official said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had personally instructed Chief Secretary H.K. Dwivedi to send the team to the accident spot and help the people from West Bengal who were travelling.
"Since the train started from Shalimar station in West Bengal, it is natural that a good number of passengers travelling by the train are domiciles of West Bengal. The Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary are keeping a constant watch on the situation," the state government official said.