1. The death toll in the Odisha triple train accident — involving Yashwantpur-Howrah Express, Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express and a goods train in Balasore district — climbed to 288, railway officials said.

The Indian Railways has ordered a high-level probe to ascertain the cause of the accident and it will be headed by the commissioner of railway safety, South Eastern Circle, the officials added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 3 inspected the accident site at Bahanaga in Balasore, Odisha, and took stock of the relief and restoration operations. He also interacted with the victims, local authorities, personnel from the disaster relief forces and railways officials.

Calling it a ‘serious incident’, Modi said that “instructions have been issued for a probe from every angle and those found guilty will be punished stringently.” He also added that the Railways is working towards track restoration.

Several Opposition leaders expressed grief at the tragic accident and some also demanded the resignation of Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. Many world leaders, envoys and embassies have also expressed their condolences.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation sent an advisory to airlines to monitor any abnormal surge in airfares to and from Odisha’s capital Bhubaneswar following the accident. It has also urged airlines to waive cancellation and rescheduling charges for travellers who may be directly or indirectly impacted by the train accident.

A preliminary investigation by a team of railway officials has revealed that the signal was given and then taken off for Coromandel Express which entered the Loop Line and collided with the goods train in Balasore, Odisha.

According to railway sources, a preliminary investigation by a team of railway officials revealed that the signal for Train No. 12841 Shalimar-Dr MGR Chennai Central Coromandel Express was given for passing through the Up Main Line and then taken off. The reason why the signal was given and taken off was not made clear in the report

However, the Superfast Express train entered into the adjacent loop line and collided with the goods train and derailed. “In the meantime, Train No. 12864 (Yashwantpur-Howrah Express) passed through the Down Main Line and two coaches of it derailed and overturned,” the preliminary investigation report, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, said.

The team found that 21 coaches of the Coromandel Express which entered the Loop Line derailed and some overturned. The Guard Brake Van and H-1 (First AC) coach were found on the Up Main Line. The Locomotive (engine) of the train was found mounted on the goods train.

A senior railway official said going by the mandatory provisions, a detailed investigation into the major accident would be done by the Commissioner of Railway Safety. (The Hindu)