Last Updated: June 03, 2023, 11:02 IST
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday reached the accident site at Balasore, where coaches of an Express derailed and collided with an adjacent track, causing tragic loss of lives.
The railway ministers have announced an independent high-level investigation into the crash and an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased while Rs 2 lakh for those grievously injured and Rs 50,000 for those who got minor injuries.
“We will conduct a comprehensive high-level inquiry and an independent investigation will be carried out by the rail safety commissioner. Our focus is on rescue and relief operations. Restoration will begin after clearance from the district administration,” Vaishnaw told ANI.
CM Naveen Patnaik also reached the spot early morning to access the situation and could be seen talking to people and rescue workers on the site. He also declared one-day state mourning on Saturday in the wake of the deadly triple train crash.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has convened a high-level meeting to review the situation, government sources said.
He also announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the victims of the deadly train crash and Rs 50,000 for those who are injured.
So far, the death toll in Odisha train accidents has gone up to 288, state revenue minister Pramila Mallick told News18 Odia on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of Education and Skill Development, Dharmendra Pradhan also cut short his visit to Kolkata in West Bengal and left for Balasore in Odisha to review rescue work.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann also took to Twitter to express their condolences to the bereaved families.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Saturday constituted a high-level committee under the aegis of IT Minister G Amarnath to visit the Odisha accident site involving three trains to help in the coordination of relief and rescue operations.
The CM held a meeting with CMO officials and reviewed the situation, directing them to be in touch with the Odisha CMO and Railway officials.
On the other hand, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will also reach the accident site in Balasore amid a call for Railway Minister’s resignation.
Banerjee, the official said, had a conversation with her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik over the telephone in connection with the accident on Friday night.
“She is quite worried and will be flying to Balasore today to take stock of the situation. She has also spoken to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik in this regard. She was in touch with the team which she sent to Balasore last night,” the bureaucrat told PTI.
The accident took place on Friday evening when three trains collided one after another in a horrific sequence in Odisha’s Balasore district. Initially, 50 people were reported dead. However, soon the death toll shot up to over 280 with more than 900 injured.