In a tragic incident that occurred on Friday, a three-train collision in Odisha claimed the lives of 233 individuals and left over 900 injured. This accident is not only one of the deadliest in recent times but also ranks among the most severe since India gained independence. The magnitude of the loss of lives in the Coromandel Express accident is comparable to other major accidents such as Gaisal (1999) and Jnaneswari (2010), both of which took place in West Bengal.
The devastating incident took place when the Coromandel Express, en route to Chennai, derailed near the Bahanaga Baazar station in Balasore, Odisha. Just five minutes earlier, the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, bound for Howrah, also derailed. The derailed coaches of the Coromandel Express then collided with a parked goods train at the site.
The Coromandel Express, with the train number 12842, covers a distance of 1,662 km from Chennai to Shalimar (in Howrah) in a journey spanning 27 hours and five minutes. The top speed of this express train is 130 km/hour. This tragic incident brings back memories of the 2009 Coromandel crash, which claimed the lives of approximately 16 passengers. That fateful night of February 13, 2009 remains etched in the memory of many.
The 2009 accident occurred when the train was changing tracks while passing the Jajpur Road railway station at a high speed. The engine of the train derailed and capsized, while the bogies were scattered in various directions. Similarly, the 2009 accident also took place in the evening, between 7:30 pm and 7:40 pm.
Following the overnight rescue operation, the death toll in this triple train crash rose to 233. As rescue efforts continued, the toll could potentially reach 300. The involvement of three trains amplified the scale of the tragedy, as both the Coromandel Express and the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express were carrying numerous passengers. Local residents reported hearing successive loud sounds, and upon reaching the scene, they were confronted with mangled bogies and lifeless bodies strewn all around.
While some train coaches sustained less damage than others, the passengers were too shocked to comprehend the horrifying scene surrounding them. A survivor from the Coromandel Express recalled, “We were jolted and suddenly saw the train coach tilting to one side. Many of us were thrown out of the compartment due to the derailment’s impact. When we managed to crawl out, we discovered bodies scattered everywhere.”
It is a heart-wrenching incident that highlights the need for increased safety measures and precautions within the Indian railway system. The authorities are working diligently to manage the aftermath of the accident and provide support to the affected individuals and their families.