At least 233 people have died with 900 injured in the world’s deadliest train disaster in two decades.
Two passenger trains collided in Balasore, Odisha, East India on Friday night, June 2, causing carriages packed with people to derail.
Images from the tragic scene showed rescuers scrambling up the mangled wreck in an attempt to find survivors.
The death toll is expected to rise in the coming hours, state Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena said in a tweet, with Sudhanshu Sarangi, the director general of the fire department in Odisha adding 233 bodies had been recovered so far.
Mr. Sarangi added: ‘A very sad incident and the prognosis is not good’.
‘I was there at the site and I can see blood, broken limbs and people dying around me,’ an eyewitness told Reuters by phone.
Hundreds of young people lined up outside a government hospital in Odisha’s Soro to donate blood to help those injured.
Rescue teams have been mobilised from Odisha’s Bhubaneswar and Kolkata in West Bengal, federal Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw said in a tweet late on Friday.
Three National Disaster Response Force teams are at the site of the accident, and six more teams are being mobilised, the country’s National Disaster Response Force said.’
The collision occurred at about 7pm local time (13.30 GMT) when the Howrah Superfast Express, running from Bangalore to Howrah, West Bengal, derailed and became entangled with the Coromandel Express, which runs from Kolkata to Chennai, railway officials said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said authorities’ priority was ‘removing the living to the hospitals’.
The trains which crashed in Balasore is about 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the state capital Bhubaneswar had been travelling in opposite directions.
Nearly 500 police officers and rescue workers attended the accident with 75 ambulances and buses in tow, Pradeep Jena, the top bureaucrat of the Odisha state said.
Amitabh Sharma, a railroad ministry spokesperson, said that 10 to 12 coaches of one train had been derailed, while debris from some of the mangled coaches had fallen onto the nearby track.
Up to three coaches of the second train also derailed.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was ‘distressed’ by the incident.
Writing on Twitter he said: ‘Distressed by the train accident in Odisha. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families.
‘May the injured recover soon. Spoke to Railway Minister Ashwini Waishnaw and took stock of the situation.
Rescue operations are underway at the site of the mishap and all possible assistance is being given those affected.’