King Charles and Queen Camilla are saddened by Indian rail disaster

King Charles and Queen Camilla are saddened by Indian rail disaster

June 5, 2023

King Charles says he and Camilla are ‘profoundly shocked and saddened’ by Indian rail disaster that left 275 dead and says the nation ‘has a special place in our hearts’

  • The King said India ‘has a special place in our hearts’ as he expressed sympathy
  • India’s railway minister suggested a signalling error was the cause of the crash

King Charles and Queen Camilla have expressed their ‘heartfelt prayers and sympathy’ and said they were ‘profoundly shocked and saddened’ after the Indian rail disaster that killed 275 and injured 1,200 last week.

The King said, on behalf of himself and Camilla, that India ‘has a special place in our hearts’ and expressed his condolences for those killed in the disaster on Friday in the eastern state of Odisha.

The horrific incident occurred when a passenger train hit a stationary freight train, jumped the tracks and hit another passenger train passing in the opposite direction near the district of Balasore, Odisha.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has since promised ‘stringent punishment’ for those responsible for a horror train crash, as early investigations point to a signalling error as the cause.

An official two-day investigation began today into what is India’s deadliest rail crash in over two decades in the hope of further understanding how the tragic event unfolded.

The King said, on behalf of he and Camilla, that India ‘has a special place in our hearts’ and expressed his condolences for those killed. He and Camilla are pictured during a visit to Market Theatre Square, Armagh, Northern Ireland, May 25, 2023

People gather at the accident site of a three-train collision near Balasore, about 200 km (125 miles) from the state capital Bhubaneswar, Saturday

Rescue workers gather around damaged carriages at the accident site of a three-train collision near Balasore, Saturday

In a statement released on social media and the Royal Family’s website today, the King said: ‘Both my wife and I have been most profoundly shocked and saddened by the news of such a dreadful accident outside Balasore.

‘I would like to express our deepest possible condolences to the families of all those who have so tragically lost their lives.

‘I do hope you know what a special place India and the people of India have in our hearts. I have particularly fond memories of visiting Odisha in 1980 and meeting some of its people on that occasion.

The King concluded: ‘I pray, therefore, that you may be able to convey our most heartfelt prayers and sympathy to all those who have been affected by this appalling tragedy, together with our special thoughts for the people of Odisha.’

Following non-stop efforts to rescue survivors, and clear and repair the track, trains resumed running over section of the line on Sunday night.

Trains were passing slowly by the derailed and mangled compartments, while the repair work continued at the track side.

Some 120 kilometres (75 miles) further north, at Kharagpur in West Bengal state, railway officials and witnesses gathered to submit evidence to a two-day inquiry, led by A.M. Chowdhary, commissioner of railway safety for the south-eastern circle.

‘Everyone involved at the site have been asked to join the inquiry. The probe will take time and we are looking at all possible angles,’ Chowdhary told reporters.

Recovery efforts to find further victims of the crash continued over Sunday

A further 15 bodies were found on Saturday night, as rescuers continued to trawl through the wreckage

The tragedy killed 275 and injured 1,200 last week. Injured passengers were taken to hospital

Around 1,200 rescue workers were  working at the site since Friday night  to recover bodies

People look at the photographs of passengers who were traveling in the trains as they try to find loved ones

India’s Railway Board, the top executive body, has recommended that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the country’s federal investigative agency, take over the probe into the cause of the disaster.

Chowdhary said he will submit his report to the Railway Board while the CBI investigation could run simultaneously.

Preliminary investigations indicated the Coromandel Express, heading southbound to Chennai from Kolkata, moved off the main line and entered a loop track – a side track used to park trains – at 128 kph (80 mph), crashing into the stationary freight train.

That crash caused the engine and first four or five coaches of the Coromandel Express to jump the tracks, topple and hit the last two coaches of the Yeshwantpur-Howrah train heading in the opposite direction at 126 kph on the second main track.

At state capital Bhubaneswar’s biggest hospital, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), authorities set up large television screens with pictures of the dead to help desperate families, who are scouring hospitals and mortuaries for their loved ones.

Pradeep Jena, chief secretary of Odisha, told reporters that 170 bodies had so far been identified, more than half of the total toll.

Others were still searching for their relatives.

Wrecked carriages at the accident site of a three-train collision near Balasore, in India’s eastern state of Odisha

‘We’ve checked all the hospitals but couldn’t find the body. We are really exhausted,’ said a man, displaying a picture of his missing cousin Anjarul Hoque.

There was also an incident of a double claim for a dead body at the hospital in Bhubaneswar.

Afuy Shaikh and Dilip Kumar Sabar both sought to claim the body with tag number 63. Police officials said that a DNA test would be required if identification was inconclusive.

‘We have to move towards normalization… Our responsibility is not over yet,’ said railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, his voice choking with emotion.

The Chennai-bound Coromandel Express was due to resume running on Monday for the first time since the accident, but the service was cancelled shortly before departure.

Aditya Chaudhary, chief public relations officer of South Eastern Railway, told Reuters this was due to a shortage of train coaches.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (centre) visits the site of the crash on Saturday

Over 275 people died and 1,200 were injured after three trains collided one after another

More than 12 million people ride 14,000 trains across India every day, traveling on 40,000 miles of track.

Friday’s crash ranks as its third worst and deadliest since 1995, when two express trains collided in Firozabad, near Agra, killing more than 300 people.

The disaster comes despite new investments and upgrades in technology that have significantly improved railway safety in recent years.

Prime Minister Modi said his thoughts were with the bereaved families. He tweeted: ‘May the injured recover soon’.

India’s railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said a high-level probe would be carried out, as the political opposition criticized the government and called for Vaishnaw to resign.

He added the site of the crash would be cleared by June 7. 

Despite government efforts to improve rail safety, several hundred accidents occur every year on India’s railways, the largest train network under one management in the world.

Source: Read Full Article