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India's rail crash

Preliminary Findings, Casualties, and Ongoing Inquiry Shed Light on the Tragic Incident

The official investigation into India’s deadliest rail crash in over two decades commenced on Monday, focusing on signal failure as the probable cause for the collision that claimed the lives of at least 275 people and injured 1,200. The incident occurred when a passenger train collided with a stationary freight train, derailing and subsequently striking another passenger train in Odisha’s Balasore district.

After tireless rescue efforts and track restoration, train services resumed on the affected section on Sunday night. Meanwhile, authorities and witnesses gathered at Kharagpur in West Bengal to provide evidence during a two-day inquiry led by Commissioner A.M. Chowdhary, who stated that a comprehensive investigation from multiple angles is underway.

In light of the magnitude of the disaster, the Railway Board has recommended that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) take over the probe alongside the ongoing inquiry.

Preliminary investigations indicated the Coromandel Express, heading southbound to Chennai from Kolkata, moved off the main line and entered a loop track – a side track used to park trains – at 128 kph (80 mph), crashing into the stationary freight train.

That crash caused the engine and first four or five coaches of the Coromandel Express to jump the tracks, topple and hit the last two coaches of the Yeshwantpur-Howrah train heading in the opposite direction at 126 kph on the second main track.

At the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Bhubaneswar, large television screens displaying images of the deceased were set up to assist families desperately searching hospitals and mortuaries for their loved ones. As authorities continue the daunting task of identification, with over half of the bodies identified so far, some families are still anxiously searching for missing relatives.

Amidst the tragedy, there was also an unsettling incident involving a double claim for a deceased body at a hospital in Bhubaneswar, prompting the need for a DNA test to resolve the identification. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw expressed the commitment to normalization, emphasizing that their responsibility extends beyond the immediate aftermath of the crash.

The recent rail crash in India has sent shockwaves throughout the nation, prompting a comprehensive investigation into the root cause of the incident. The preliminary findings pointing to signal failure raise concerns about the safety measures and maintenance practices within the railway system.

The involvement of the Central Bureau of Investigation indicates the seriousness of the matter and the government’s determination to bring clarity and accountability. As families continue to grapple with grief and search for their loved ones, the focus now lies on implementing necessary measures to prevent such tragic accidents in the future and ensuring the smooth functioning of the railway network.

The Chennai-bound Coromandel Express was due to resume running on Monday for the first time since the accident but the service was cancelled shortly before departure.

Aditya Chaudhary, chief public relations officer of South Eastern Railway, said this was due to a shortage of train coaches.

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