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Crash investigators say an electronic signal failure caused a train crash in India

origin 1People view where trains derailed in Balasore district of the eastern Indian state of Orissa on Sunday, June 4, 2023. ©Rafiq Maqbool/Copyright 2023 AP. All rights reserved

The train derailment in eastern India that killed more than 300 people and injured hundreds more was caused by an error in the electronic signaling system that led to a train changing tracks incorrectly, the education minister said on Sunday. Indian Railways.

“Who did it and what is the reason will come out in an investigation,” Ashwini Vaishnaw said in an interview with the New Delhi television network.

The explanation came as authorities worked to clear the mangled wreckage of two passenger trains that derailed on Friday night in Balasore district of the eastern state of Odisha in one of the deadliest train accidents in decades.

On the wrong track

Preliminary investigations revealed a signal was given to the Coromandel Express to enter the main line of the track, the Press Trust of India news agency said earlier, but the signal was later taken away. The train entered another line, known as a loop line, and crashed into a freight train parked there, PTI said.

Fifteen bodies were recovered on Saturday evening and efforts continued into the night as heavy cranes were used to remove an engine that had lodged on a railway carriage. No bodies were found in the engine and the work was completed on Sunday morning, said Sudhanshu Sarangi, director general of fire and emergency services in Odisha.

The incident came at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is focusing on modernizing the British colonial-era railway network in India, which has become the most populous country in the world with 1.42 billion people. Despite government efforts to improve railway safety, several hundred accidents occur every year on Indian Railways, the largest single-managed railway network in the world.

Chaotic scenes erupted on Friday evening as rescuers climbed into wrecked trains to smash doors and windows using sharp torches to try and save people who were trapped inside the train cars.

Modi visited the crash site on Saturday to review the rescue and talk to rescuers. He also visited a hospital where he asked doctors about the care provided to the injured and spoke to some of the patients.

Modi told reporters he felt the pain of those who suffered in the crash. He said the government will do its best to help them and will severely punish anyone held accountable.

Ten to 12 carriages of one train derailed, and debris from some of the mangled carriages fell onto a nearby track. The debris was hit by another passenger train coming from the opposite direction, derailing three carriages of the second train, said Amitabh Sharma, spokesman for the Ministry of Railways.

In 1995, two trains collided near New Delhi, killing 358 people in one of India’s worst train accidents. In 2016, a passenger train skidded off the tracks between the cities of Indore and Patna, killing 146 people.