Signal Failure Blamed For Rail Disaster That Killed 275, Injured Hundreds in India

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Alyssa Blakemore Contributor
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Preliminary investigations now show an error in the electronic signaling system is responsible for one of India’s deadliest rail crashes in decades.

A rail disaster in eastern India left 275 people dead and more than 1,000 injured Friday in India’s east Odisha state, according to CNN. An Odisha government statement clarified the death toll after a top state officer cited 300 killed, the outlet noted.

The deadly wreck took place after a change in signals sent the high-speed Coromandel Express off the main track line onto an adjacent loop line where it hit a freight train loaded with ore, AP News reported. Coaches from the passenger train landed on another track, causing the derailment of the incoming Yesvantpur-Howrah Express, according to the outlet. (RELATED: REPORT: 50 Dead, Over 23,000 Flee Violent Ethnic Clashes In India)

Heavy machinery removes damaged coaches from the railway tracks at the site of a train collision following the accident in Balasore district in the eastern state of Odisha, India, June 4, 2023. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Senior railway official Jaya Verma Sinha said the cause of the crash stems from an error in the electronic signaling system, according to the AP. Neither of the passenger trains were overspeeding: further investigation will evaluate if the error was human or technical, said Verma, declining to rule out the possibility of sabotage.

Family members of those killed worked to reach the site of the wreckage as some of the rail routes were still blocked, CNN detailed. The extent of injuries left some bodies difficult to identify by loved ones, and many bodies were still unidentified as of Sunday, according to the CNN and the AP.

More than 13 million passengers transit India’s railway system daily, CNN noted. In the wake of disastrous wreck, the government faces renewed calls to address safety issues despite millions in funding pumped into the still-deteriorating system, the outlet said.