100 unclaimed bodies remain after India’s deadliest rail crash in decades

People try to identify bodies of their relatives who were in Friday's train accident in Balasore, at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in Bhubaneswar, in the eastern state of Odisha, India, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Indian authorities have urgently requested assistance from families to identify over 100 unclaimed bodies following the country’s deadliest rail crash in over two decades. The accident occurred near the Balasore district in the eastern state of Odisha, resulting in 275 fatalities. Despite continuous efforts to rescue survivors and repair the track, around 100 bodies remain unclaimed as of yesterday evening.

Bijay Kumar Mohapatra, the health director of Odisha, explained that authorities are attempting to source iced containers to preserve the bodies, as post-mortems cannot be conducted until they are identified. According to Odisha state regulations, autopsies on unclaimed bodies cannot be performed until 96 hours have passed.

At the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Bhubaneswar, large television screens displayed images of the deceased to aid distraught families searching for friends and relatives. A detailed list of distinguishing features for each body was compiled, allowing relatives to view the photographs and identify their loved ones.

The trains carried passengers from several states, and officials from Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh were present in Balasore to assist people in claiming the bodies and transporting them home.

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The Railway Board of India has recommended that the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) take over the inquiry into the disaster’s cause. A separate investigation, led by A M Chowdhary, commissioner of railway safety for the south-eastern circle, began on Monday. The CBI team is expected to arrive at the site on Tuesday to commence its investigation.

Odisha rail crash
People wait outside a mortuary for news of their relatives missing in Friday’s train accident in Balasore, at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in Bhubaneswar, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Railway police have filed a case of criminal negligence without naming any suspects. Preliminary findings suggest that a signal failure likely caused the catastrophe. The Coromandel Express, travelling southbound from Kolkata to Chennai, reportedly moved off the main line and entered a loop track at 128kph, colliding with a stationary freight train. This collision resulted in the engine and first four or five coaches of the Coromandel Express derailing, toppling, and striking the last two coaches of the Yeshwantpur-Howrah train travelling in the opposite direction at 126kph on the second main track, reports Channel News Asia.

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Sara is a journalist and content writer who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics. Sara's journey in journalism began as a copywriter, and over time, her portfolio expanded to include articles and features for some of the nation's top lifestyle publications. Outside the office, she enjoys practising yoga and exploring hidden locations in Bangkok.

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