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Biggest incident in 21st century, says Mamata Banerjee at train accident site in Odisha's Balasore
Balasore: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reached Odisha's Balasore in the wake of accident involving three trains in which 261 people lost their lives and described it "biggest railway accident of 21st century".
According to Railways, the three-way accident on Friday evening has led to 261 deaths. The injured have been taken to the Hospitals of Gopalpur, Khantapara, Balasore, Bhadrak and Soro. "Coromandel is one of the best express trains. I was the Railway Minister thrice. From what I saw, this is the biggest railway accident of the 21st century. Such cases are handed over to Railway's safety commission and they investigate and give a report...There was no anti-collision device on the train, as far as I know. Had the device been on the train, this would not have happened...The dead can't be brought back but now our work is rescue operation and restoration of normalcy," Banerjee told reporters.
She said that the West Bengal government will provide Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of people from the state who died in the accident.
"Railway provides Rs 10 lakh as compensation. We will provide Rs 5 lakh each to the people of our state and cooperate and work with the Railways and Odisha Government until the work is complete," she said.
"We sent 40 ambulances yesterday and 70 today. Forty of our doctors have reached here and they are working," she added.
The West Bengal government has also decided to provide Rs one lakh for the injured and Rs 50,000 each to the accident victims from the state.
The scale of accident was evident from the visuals of the accident site with some bogeys thrown wide off from the track, crushed or in mangled condition and belongings of passengers strewn around.
The survivors also recalled the scale of tragedy.
A family of three, who was travelling in one of the trains involved in train accident, returned to their home in Purba Medinipur in West Bengal said they felt a jolt and there was smoke in the compartment.
"We left for Chennai from Kharagpur station yesterday. After Balasore station, the train felt a jolt. Then we saw the compartment filling with smoke. I could not see anyone. The local people came to my aid and they pulled me out of the wreckage...," said Subroto Pal, a member of the family.
According to a preliminary report released on Saturday by the State Emergency Operation Centre of Odisha's Special Relief Commissioner in Bhubaneswar, the accident took place at around 7 am at Bahanaga Bazar Station in Odisha's Balasore district.
Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the rescue operation has been completed and restoration work has started.
"The rescue operation has been completed and restoration work has started. We will thoroughly investigate this incident and will ensure such incidents don't happen in future," he said.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the accident happened due to some technical reasons and an inquiry has been ordered.
"It's an unfortunate incident. It happened due to some technical reasons, an inquiry has been ordered by Railways. PM Modi is also coming here," he said.
Odisha has declared a day of mourning in the wake of the accident.
The South Eastern Railway has cancelled 33 trains and diverted 36 trains to other routes. (ANI)