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Odisha train accident: Death toll mounts to 288

The three-train crash in Odisha’s Balasore district has so far left 288 people dead and over 1,100 injured. The crash involving Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, which were carrying around 2,500 passengers, and a goods train occurred around 7 PM on Friday near the Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore, about 250 km south of Kolkata and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar.

Twenty-one coaches were derailed and severely damaged in the accident, trapping hundreds of passengers. Both passenger trains were at a high speed and it has been cited by experts as one of the main reasons for the high number of casualties.

The rescue operation was wrapped up Saturday afternoon and restoration work started. With traffic on the route disrupted, over 150 trains were cancelled, diverted or short-terminated.

Preliminary investigations have revealed that a signal was given to Coromandel Express to enter the main line but it was taken off and the train entered the loop line and crashed into a goods train parked there.

The Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express which was coming at high speed rammed into the coaches of Coromandel Express that had scattered on the adjacent track.

While questions were raised on why the anti-train collision system ‘Kavach’ did not work, the railways said it was not available on the route.

June 2, India witnessed one of the deadliest train accident in history in Balasore, Odisha leaving 233 dead and over 900 injured. While the state and central governments rushed rescue teams of NDRF and other agencies to the spot, activists of Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangha (RSS), Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Bajrang Dal were among the first to reach and initiate the rescue operation along with locals. Hundreds of activists not only helped in saving hundreds of lives at the accident spot but also lined up for hours to donate blood.

As per reports, RSS activists reached the accident site at around 7:30 PM, soon after the accident took place. As there is a small Shakha in the village nearby, a few RSS activists were able to reach but soon around 250 RSS were at the accident spot helping in the operation. Speaking to the organiser, ABVP Karyakarta Lakshmi said around 600 activists of RSS were deployed at Balasore Hospital to help the families to identify their relatives. From providing food to assisting in making calls to ensure the families reunite, the members of Hindu organisations stayed at hospitals and accident sites around the clock.

RSS State President Ravi Narayan Panda said in a statement that RSS workers assisted different agencies in rescue operations. RSS’s leader Vishnu Nayak was also present at the site helping in the operation. While RSS activists helped at the rescue site, several of them were also present at the hospital to assist the families and injured victims.

As the number of causalities was high, hospital staff and ambulance services were overwhelmed. The activists ensure ambulance drivers and hospital boys had all the help in dispatching the dead bodies. They also helped in transporting the bodies to the morgue manually.

He added, hundreds of pracharaks and prant pramukhs have arrived in Balasore and are helping the railway officials, with the rescue operation on site. Some of the Karyakarta’s are also helping the NDRF teams, he added.

Lakshmi mentioned several activists were stationed at bus stops and crossings etc with food, water, first-aid kits and mobile phones to help the survivors. The organisations issued helpline numbers from the official accounts to help the victims and their families. Speaking to Organiser, Lakshmi said, “He added, “Times like these are depressing, we are here to build a human chain and do everything possible in our capacity to save human lives. The whole town is on streets serving the people, it’s not like we are the only ones. But we are here 24/7 and will remain, till the situation gets back to normal”.

Hindu organisations provide help during calamities
RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP, ABVP and other Hindu organisations are among the first to respond to the calamities across the country. During the Covid-19 crisis, activists of these organisations were on the ground providing food, shelter, medical care and even education to those in need. At the time of both natural and man-made calamities, these organisations have worked extensively to ensure the safety and welfare of the victims.

Bajrang Dal activists were also present, not only to help in rescue efforts but also provide food and water to those injured.