Death toll from India train crash revised downward

Traffic resumes, three days after one of India’s worst rail disasters. Passenger and freight trains are running again on Monday. The cause of the collision between three trains on Friday evening near Balasore, in the eastern state of Odisha, which killed nearly 300 people and injured more than a thousand, has been identified by the authorities as being related to a problem in the referral system.

Authorities initially announced a death toll of 288, but the Odisha state government has since revised it to 275, with some bodies mistakenly double counted. Of the 1,175 injured, 382 are still hospitalized, authorities said on Sunday. Fears that the death toll could rise remain high as medical centers are overwhelmed with injured people, many in serious condition.

“No one responsible” for the accident will be spared, promised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, who visited the scene of the disaster and met the injured in hospital. Since the disaster, large green nets have been erected along the tracks, hiding the carcasses of gutted wagons, pushed to the sides.

Resumption of traffic 51 hours after the accident

On Sunday, India’s Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the “cause of the crash and those responsible” had been identified. He had specified that “the change which occurred during the electronic referral is at the origin of the accident”.

The minister was observed, hands clasped in prayer, as the first train loaded with coal passed through the site of the disaster at the end of the day on Sunday, 51 hours after the accident. The first conclusions of the investigation have not yet been made public, but the daily Times of Indiaciting a preliminary investigation report, said on Sunday that “human error” in signaling may have caused the collision.

At this stage, this rail accident is the deadliest in India since the head-on collision of two passenger trains on August 2, 1999 at Gaisal station in West Bengal, which killed 285 people.

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