Counting the horrific Odisha train accident on Friday night, the Coromandel Express has derailed three times so far – 2002, 2009 and 2023. But no lessons seemed to have been learnt by the Indian Railways from the first two mishaps, making the latest accident the deadliest so far. All three accidents took place on a Friday, all three trains were bound for Chennai and two of these occurred in Odisha.
In 2002, the train operating between West Bengal and Tamil Nadu derailed on March 15 near Nellore in Andhra Pradesh. At least eight coaches of the Chennai-bound train were damaged. However, no deaths were reported, but around 100 people were injured. At the time, the poor condition of the main rail track in Nellore was blamed for the accident.
In 2009, at least 16 passengers were killed and around 200 were injured in the mishap that took place on the evening of February 13. A total of 13 bogies derailed while changing tracks in Odisha’s Jajpur district. The train was running at a high speed and the engine turned turtle soon after it passed through the Jajpur Road railway station.
In the latest Odisha accident, the train derailed around 100km from the 2009 mishap site, this time involving two more trains and killing more than 260 people. The accident took place near Bahanaga Bazar railway station when around 11 coaches and the engine of the Coromandel Express derailed. According to the latest railway bulletin, issued around 1pm on Saturday, at least 261 deaths have been reported.
Injured passengers were taken to hospitals in Gopalpur, Khantapara, Balasore, Bhadrak and Soro. Both Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Railway Board Chairman Anil Kumar Lahoti inspected the site.
The Railway Ministry ordered a probe to be led by AM Chowdhary, Commissioner Railway Safety, South East Circle.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declared one-day state mourning on Saturday in the wake of the deadly triple train crash.
The Railways announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased, Rs 2 lakh for those grievously injured and Rs 50,000 for those who got minor injuries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, expressed his distress over the accident, and announced an additional ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured from the PM’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).