India Blames Deadly Train Crash on Signal Error

Electronic system apparently misfired in derailments that killed more than 300
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 3, 2023 1:00 PM CDT
Updated Jun 4, 2023 8:00 AM CDT
Death Toll Climbs in Train Crash
A drone shot of rescuers working Saturday at the site of a rail accident.   (AP Photo/Arabinda Mahapatra)
UPDATE Jun 4, 2023 8:00 AM CDT

The derailment in eastern India that killed more than 300 people and injured hundreds was caused by an error in the electronic signaling system, officials said Sunday. Preliminary investigations revealed that a signal was given to the high-speed Coromandel Express to run on the main track line, but the signal later changed, and the train instead entered an adjacent loop line where it rammed into a freight loaded with iron ore, per the AP. The collision flipped Coromandel Express’s coaches onto another track, causing the incoming Yesvantpur-Howrah Express from the opposite side also to derail. Those two passenger trains were carrying more than 2,200 people.

Jun 3, 2023 1:00 PM CDT

Rescuers found no more survivors in the overturned and mangled wreckage of two passenger trains that derailed in eastern India, killing more than 300 people and injuring hundreds in one of the country's deadliest rail crashes in decades, officials said Saturday. Chaotic scenes erupted on Friday night as rescuers climbed atop the wrecked trains to break open doors and windows using cutting torches, and the death toll rose steadily throughout the night. Scores of bodies, covered by white sheets, lay on the ground near the tracks while nearby residents and rescuers raced to free the hundreds of people trapped in the rail cars under the twisted metal and broken glass. Army soldiers and air force helicopters joined the effort in Odisha state, the AP reports.

"This is very, very tragic. I have never seen anything like this in my career," said Sudhanshu Sarangi, Odisha's fire and emergency director. At least 280 bodies were recovered by Saturday, he said; about 900 people were injured. The cause was under investigation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been focusing on the modernization of the British colonial-era railroad network in India, which has become the world's most populous country with 1.42 billion. Despite government efforts to improve safety, several hundred accidents occur every year on India's railways. Modi on Saturday was supposed to inaugurate a high-speed train connecting Goa and Mumbai that is equipped with a collision avoidance system, which the derailed train did not have, per the AP. The event was canceled.

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Modi flew to the crash site, observing the relief effort, and later visited victims in a hospital. He told reporters he was feeling the pain of those who are suffering. He said the government would help them and punish those found responsible. A Railroad Ministry spokesperson said that the rescue work was near completion and that workers will start removing the wreckage to repair the track and resume train operations. A passenger described her coach veering off the tracks. Vandana Kaleda said people were falling on each other as her coach shook violently. "Suddenly the train tilted. I lost my balance. ... Everything went topsy turvy," she said. "I was shocked and could not understand what happened. My mind stopped working."
(Read more India stories.)

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