New Delhi/Balasore: As the death figures of last night’s triple train crash in Odisha mounted to 288, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today rushed to Bahanaga Bazar, the accident site in Balasore district, to review the rescue and relief efforts there. He also visited the hospital where the injured are undertaking treatment.
Amid growing speculations over whether the crash was sabotage, signal failure or a human error, Modi gave instructions for a speedy investigation and for taking prompt and stringent action against those found guilty.
It may be mentioned that former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi hinted at the possibility of sabotage, questions were also being raised on why the route had no anti-collision system ‘Kavach‘ installed. A railway ministry spokesperson said since the anti-collision device was old technology, an enhanced version of this technology, TCAS, had been sanctioned in various railway lines, and was to be installed by 2024.
Earlier, before heading to Balasore, the Prime Minister also chaired a high-level meeting to take stock of the situation in the wake of the trains’ crash in Odisha.
An Odisha health department official said that till now 1,175 patients were admitted to private hospitals out of which 793 patients were discharged. Among the 382 patients who are undergoing treatment, the condition of two was critical.
The Prime Minister said that people from various states who were travelling in the trains had been impacted by the accident, and assured that no stone will be left unturned to provide all possible medical help to those injure. He emphasised the ‘whole of government’ approach to mitigating “this monumental tragedy”.
At the same time, Modi lauded the Odisha government, local administration and local people, especially youth, for promptly undertaking relief and rescue efforts. “I commend each and every person belonging to the teams of railways, NDRF, ODRAF, local authorities, police, fire service, volunteers and others who are working tirelessly on the ground and strengthening the rescue ops. Proud of their dedication,” he stated.
While many Opposition leaders are now asking for his resignation in the wake of the accident, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw continues to remain on the accident site overseeing the restoration process. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary, Sitaram Yechury, claimed that there was a sheer dearth of gangmen who inspect tracks every day. “If the money spent on Modi’s inauguration of Vande Bharat trains was spent for railway safety, many lives would be saved,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Civil Aviation advised all airlines to extend full support to facilitate bringing the remains of the deceased back to their home states. The Ministry also told airlines to ensure there were no hikes in airfares of flights operating to and from Bhubaneswar in particular, and other airports in Odisha in general, in the wake of the rush following the train accident.
The Bihar government today issued emergency helpline numbers 0612-2249204 and 0612-229405 and deployed a dedicated team to provide information about the victims.
A team comprising ministers and bureaucrats from Tamil Nadu also visited Odisha today. It also met the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patanayak.
Condolence messages kept pouring in from world leaders on the train mishap in Odisha. Prime Minister Modi said he was “deeply moved” by these messages from world leaders “Their kind words will give strength to the bereaved families. Gratitude for their support,” he tweeted.
At London’s Lee Valley Hockey stadium today, one minute of silence was observed before the hockey match between India and Great Britain for the people who lost lives in the Odisha train crash.
In Varanasi, for the peace of the souls of hundreds of people who died in the train accident, the followers of Jyotishpeeth Shankaracharya paid tribute by lighting lamps at Asi Ghat, from 7 pm. They also prayed for the speedy recovery of hundreds of people injured in the train accident. A collective prayer was offered to God to give strength to his family members. Today’s Ganga Aarti by Ganga Seva Samiti was also dedicated to the dead. Along with this, 2 minutes of mass silence was observed for the peace of the souls of the deceased.
– global bihari bureau