India train crash: police open criminal negligence case after fatal crash causes death of more than 280 people

Two passenger trains and a goods train were involved in the accident - India’s worst on the railways this century

Aftermath of deadly train crash in IndiaAftermath of deadly train crash in India
Aftermath of deadly train crash in India

Police officers in the Indian state of Odisha have opened a criminal negligence case after more than 280 people were killed in a fatal train crash on Friday (2 June).

The report filed by the authorities has been registered as a "death by negligence" criminal case, but it did not name any specific person or organisation in the report. It stated that the “culpability of specific railway employees has not been ascertained, which will be unearthed during the investigation”.

The news comes after rescuers called off the rescue operation after no more survivors were found in the wreckage of two passenger trains that derailed in Odisha. It is now known that more than 280 people were killed and hundreds more were injured in one of the country’s deadliest rail crashes in decades.

According to preliminary reports, the cause of the crash stemmed from a signal failure which led to the Coromandel Express switching tracks and colliding with a stationary freight train. The Coromandel Express, which was carrying more than 1,200 passengers at the time, flipped onto the other side of the track after the initial collision, with an oncoming Howrah express train derailing after hitting the wreckage.

There were chaotic scenes after the derailment on Friday night about 137 miles south-west of Kolkata, as rescuers climbed on top of the wrecked trains to break open doors and windows using cutting torches. The death toll rose steadily throughout the night.

Scores of bodies, covered by white sheets, lay on the ground near the tracks as locals and rescuers raced to help survivors. Army soldiers and air force helicopters joined the effort.

A railway ministry spokesman, Amitabh Sharma, said 10 to 12 coaches of one train derailed around 135 miles south-west of Kolkata, and debris from some of the mangled coaches fell onto a nearby track.

He added the debris was hit by another passenger train coming from the opposite direction, and up to three coaches of the second train also derailed.

Following the accident, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: "Rescue ops are underway at the site of the mishap and all possible assistance is being given to those affected."

The death toll is expected to rise further. The exact reason for the crash remains unclear.

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