In the aftermath of a devastating triple-train accident at the Bahanaga Bazar railway station in Balasore district, the station has been shut down for train stoppage until the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) concludes its probe into the tragedy, according to officials. The collision involving Coromondel Express, Yeshwantpur-Howrah Express, and an iron ore-laden goods train resulted in the loss of at least 288 lives and left 1,200 passengers injured.
South Eastern Railway's chief public relations officer, Aditya Kumar Chaudhary, stated that the CBI had sealed the station after seizing the log book, leading to the suspension of train services at the station until the investigation is complete. The relay interlocking panel, a vital part of the signaling system, has been sealed, prohibiting staff access and halting the movement of passenger and goods trains at Bahanaga Bazar until further notice.
While approximately 170 trains pass through the Bahanaga Bazar Railway station daily, only seven passenger trains, including the Bhadrak-Balasore MEMU, Howrah Bhadrak Baghajatin Fast Passenger, and Kharagpur Khurda road fast passenger, stop at the station for a minute. The station primarily serves laborers from 25 nearby villages who rely on these trains for transportation. With less than 10 railway personnel working at the station, the impact of the closure is felt by both commuters and staff.
Railway officials reported that repairs have been carried out on the up-line, down-line, and both loop-lines at the accident site. However, minor repairs continue to be conducted daily to ensure the tracks are in proper order. As a result, the movement of 24 trains has been canceled until the necessary repairs are completed.
Regarding the affected passengers, Chaudhary mentioned that ex gratia and compensation have been provided in 709 cases out of the total 1,208 affected individuals. The remaining cases are currently being processed. So far, 829 passengers, including the 288 deceased, have been deemed eligible for ex gratia and compensation. This includes both reserved and general coach passengers. The railways have also announced ex gratia for ticketless travelers who lost their lives or sustained injuries in the train crash.
The tragic accident involved the Yeshwantpur Howrah Superfast Express and the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express, with nearly 2,300 passengers on board. Of those, 160 passengers were critically injured, while 372 sustained minor injuries. Immediate medical assistance was provided to 379 passengers at the accident site or nearby hospitals.
Meanwhile, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Bhubaneswar is still working to identify 81 bodies stored in containers, and relatives of missing passengers await DNA sample reports for closure and identification.
(With PTI Inputs)