More than 280 people have been killed and hundreds injured in a collision involving two passenger trains and a goods train in the Indian city of Balasore, in one of the worst rail crashes in recent history.
One passenger train is thought to have derailed before being struck by another on the adjacent track late on Friday.
It is India’s worst train crash this century. Officials say the death toll is expected to rise further.
— Reuters (@Reuters) June 3, 2023
Indian Railways said the two services involved were the Coromandel Express and the Howrah Superfast Express.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was distressed by the incident and his thoughts were with the bereaved families.
“Rescue ops are underway at the site of the mishap and all possible assistance is being given to those affected,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Amit Shah labeled the incident “deeply agonizing”.
One male survivor said that “10 to 15 people fell on me when the accident happened and everything went haywire. I was at the bottom of the pile.
“I got hurt in my hand and also the back of my neck. When I came out of the train bogie, I saw someone had lost their hand, someone had lost their leg, while someone’s face was distorted,” the survivor told India’s ANI news agency.
India train collision was one of the worst rail crashes in recent history
It is believed that several carriages from the Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express derailed at about 19:00 local time (13:30 GMT), with some of them ending up on the opposite track.
Another train – the Howrah Superfast Express traveling from Yesvantpur to Howrah – is then thought to have hit the overturned carriages.
Indian officials said that a goods train – which was stationary at the site – was also involved in the incident. They provided no further details.
Images from the scene showed rescuers attempting to find survivors in a damaged rail carriage. Video footage also showed upturned coaches littered across train tracks, and people climbing a mangled train carriage.
Some surviving passengers were seen rushing in to help rescue those trapped in the wreckage.
India’s extensive rail network suffers from aging infrastructure and poor maintenance – factors that are often responsible for accidents.
The death toll from Friday’s crash has already surpassed that of an infamous crash in 2016 – one of the deadliest in recent years – when over 140 people were killed in a derailment in northern Uttar Pradesh state.
India’s worst train disaster was in 1981, when an overcrowded passenger train was blown off the tracks and into a river during a cyclone in Bihar state, killing at least 800 people.