In a tragic mishap, at least three people were killed and several others injured after a goods train crashed into the waiting hall at Korei station in Bhadrak-Kapilas Road Railway section under Khordha Road Railway Division of East Coast Railway (ECoR) in Jajpur district on Monday morning.
It is feared that many more people may have been trapped under the mangled wagons and debris. The identities of the deceased and injured are yet to be ascertained. While the ECoR has confirmed two deaths, the casualties may increase. The ill-fated train was moving from Dongoaposi towards Chhatrapur. Its eight wagons got derailed.
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While two of the deceased have been identified as Parbati Bindhani and her daughter Kandhei Bindhani of Korei area, the third one, who is also a woman, is yet to be identified.
As the news broke, police, RPF and fire personnel reached the spot and launched a rescue operation. The injured have been admitted at Jajpur community health centre (CHC). Several 108 ambulances have been pressed into service.
The ECoR said the station building has also suffered damaged due to the mishap. It added that the Accident Relief Train and Accident Relief Medical Team have been asked to reach the site immediately.
DRM Khordha Road along with other Branch officers have also rushed to the accident spot to look after the rescue and restoration work.
Due to the mishap, both the lines are blocked, affecting rail traffic on the route. Meanwhile, the East Coast Railway issued helpline numbers and set up a helpdesk following the train mishap. The helpline numbers for Korei and Bhubaneswar stations are 8455889905 and 06742534027 respectively.
According to sources, passengers were waiting at the platform and in the waiting hall to catch trains to their destinations. Before they could understand anything, the goods train suddenly dashed into the waiting hall. It was about 6.44am. After tearing into the hall, three to four wagons came to a halt after hitting against the foot over bridge.
Eyewitnesses said the train which was moving at a great speed lost its balance while passing by the station, leading to the tragic mishap.
Speaking about the rescue operation, former fire officer Sukant Sathi said, "The train mishap occurred at Korei station has not been seen or heard of before. Wagons of the goods train jumped the platform and ran into the waiting hall. Under the impact of the accident, the walls of the hall collapsed and the station building also suffered damage. It will need heavy machineries like cranes and plasma cutters to remove the mangled wagons lying scattered on the platform and debris. It will take time."
Informing about the accident, senior PRO, ECoR, Nirakar Das said it is too early to say anything about the reason of the accident. “A goods train has to lower its speed while crossing a station. In this case, the train might have been moving at a great speed. Our inquiry team will find out whether the train was moving at a great speed. There were 54 bogies in total and eight bogies jumped onto the platform,” informed Das.
“Now our top priority is to rescue the person trapped under the debris and clear the tracks. Due to the mishap, traffic on the tracks has been affected and two to three long-distance trains have been halted at different locations. Since it is not a passenger train, it is expected that a single line will soon be cleared. As per our standard, soon ex-gratia for the next of kin of deceased persons and injured persons will be announced,” he added.
Meanwhile, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased in the train mishap. The Minister also announced Rs 1 lakh for the severely injured and Rs 25,000 for those who suffered minor injuries.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed grief over the train mishap at Korei station. He also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the victims.
Taking to Twitter, BJP National Vice President Baijayant Panda expressed grief at the loss of lives in the train mishap. “I was extremely saddened to learn about the train mishap at Korei station in Odisha’s Jajpur district. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured ones and my deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones. May Lord Jagannath give them courage and strength,” read his Tweet in Odia.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also expressed grief over the loss of lives in the Korei train tragedy. “I was deeply saddened by the loss of lives due to the train mishap at Korei station in Jajpur district. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured ones and express my deepest sympathy to the families who lost their dear ones,” he tweeted in Odia.
“I just visited the spot. It is really a tragic incident. Rescue operations are underway. I have directed the officials to ensure proper treatment of the injured persons. I have also discussed with the DRM and GM regarding an inquiry into the mishap,” said Sharmistha Sethi, Jajpur MP.
In his reaction, actor-turned-politician Akash Das Nayak said there should be no repetition of this train mishap at any place in the future. Rescue and restoration operations are underway. It will take six to seven hours more to complete the operation. Nayak is the former MLA of Korei.
Meanwhile, locals blame Railways for being careless and the family members of the deceased along with hundreds of local residents staged a demonstration near Korei railway station, demanding Rs 50 lakh compensation and a job for one family member in the Railway department.
“My mother and sister died in the mishap. While my father is a paralytic person, I have two unmarried sisters to look after. We want justice. Our demands include job and financial assistance,” said deceased Parbati Bindhani’s son.