People from about a dozen families, mostly from Bihar and West Bengal, boarded a special train from Chennai on Saturday evening. Their destination – Balasore district of Odisha, which on Friday night saw one of India’s deadliest railway accidents in recent years.

They were relatives of the train passengers involved in the accident. Some were helping injured loved ones, while others had not yet reached out to their loved ones and were hoping for the best.

The Coromandel Express, bound for Chennai from Shalimar in West Bengal, derailed on Friday night in Balasore after colliding with a goods train. Some Coromandel Express carriages fell onto other tracks, and another train, the Yesvantpur-Howrah Superfast Express, ran over it, derailing some of its coaches. At least 288 people died in the accident, and more than 900 were injured.

The anxiety was evident in the waiting room at Chennai Central Railway station on Saturday as people waited to board the special train. Sunil Kamath of Bihar was one of them, and he hoped to find his brother-in-law, who was traveling on the Coromandel Express.

(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzqv-ulpIl8 (/embed)

We haven’t had any contact with him yet. “I hope to find him recovering in the hospital,” said Kamath, a chef at a Chennai hotel.

Odisha train accident Illustration of the place where the accident occurred.

Another passenger on the special train, Umesh Kumar Singh from Bihar, was both anxious and relieved. His brother, a passenger on the ill-fated train, was able to contact him. “He pleaded with me to come immediately as his legs were badly injured and bandaged. I didn’t have the money to take a ride. The station manager offered a free ticket and this allowed me to take the ride,” Singh said, expressing hope his brother’s injuries weren’t life-threatening.

Initial reports on Saturday morning indicated that around 35 ethnic Tamils ​​were killed in the accident, and approximately 80 people were injured. However, a senior government official later clarified that the victims listed in the morning were in fact West Bengalis bound for Chennai. Hence, they were reclassified as passengers from West Bengal.

“Our analysis of the list of booked passengers indicates minimal deaths of Tamil origin, perhaps one or two at most. However, we can confirm that around 50-60 Tamils ​​sustained injuries, ranging from minor to serious. Among the 350 bookings from Howrah To Chennai, about 100 bookings were from people of Tamil origin.”We are still determining losses from non-reserving coaches before we can make final statements,” the official said.

In response to the incident, the Chennai division of Southern Railways launched a helpdesk at Chennai Central Railway station. Although there were six railway employees stationed, they were met with few inquiries. According to an update late Saturday evening, the station chief’s office was still trying to check the status of Tamil passengers on the Coromandel Express.

Odisha train crash Photograph of the railway accident at Bahanaga Bazar station in Odisha. (express photo)

Prime Minister MK Stalin, who dropped his own program on Saturday to celebrate the centenary of late former PM M Karunanidhi, visited the help desk and control office at Chennai Central Station to oversee relief measures. He was accompanied by Chief Secretary Irayanpu and DGP Silendra Babu.

Stalin announced an indemnity of 5 lakh rupees for each Tamil Nadu family who lost a member in the accident. This is in addition to the Rs 10 lakh announced by the Railways Minister for each victim family and the Rs 2 lakh announced by the Chief Minister. For the injured, the Chief Minister promised Rs 1 lakh each.


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