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Modi vows 'harshest punishment' for people to blame for India train crash, as death toll reaches 300 with 900 injured
4 June 2023, 07:18 | Updated: 4 June 2023, 07:51
India's prime minister has pledged to inflict the "harshest punishment" on those responsible for the horrific train crash in the east of the country on Friday, which has killed hundreds of people.
At least 300 people have died and 900 more are injured after the three-train smash on Friday evening, which took place after one came off the tracks and collided with another passenger service, which then struck a goods train.
Visiting the crash site in Odisha's Balasore district on Saturday, Narendra Modi said: "This is a very big, painful and disturbing incident.
"Those family members who have been injured, the government will leave no effort for their well-being."
Mr Modi said his family "is with the families in their hour of grief", adding that "all types of enquiries" would seek to uncover the truth about the crash, the worst in India for 20 years.
He warned: "The guilty should get the harshest punishment - they will not be spared," he warned.
"Words can't capture my deep sorrow," he added.
"We stand committed to providing all possible assistance to those affected."
Early reports suggest that a signal failure caused one of the passenger trains to derail, hitting the other, which then crashed into the goods train.
Pradeep Jena, the chief secretary of Odisha, added almost 500 police officers and rescue workers responded to the accident, with the assistance of 75 ambulances.
K S Anand, chief public relations officer of the South Eastern Railway, said: "The Coromandel Express was supposed to travel on the main line, but a signal was given for the loop line instead, and the train rammed into a goods train already parked over there.
"Its coaches then fell onto the tracks on either side, also derailing the Howrah Superfast Express."
Sudhanshu Sarangi, director of Odisha state's fire and emergency department, said all survivors had been pulled from the wreckage.
He added: "This is very, very tragic - I have never seen anything like this in my career."
Families of the dead will receive compensation of one million rupees (£9,700). Seriously injured people will be given 200,000 rupees (£1,950), and people with minor injuries will be paid 50,000 rupees (£485), according to railway minister Ashwini Vaishna.
India’s railway is the largest train network under the management of one body in the world. Despite recent efforts to improve the safety of those travelling by railway, the country faces several rail accidents every year, PA reported.
In November 2016, more than 100 people were killed in Northern India when 14 coaches of a passenger train rolled off the track.