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India Train Derailment Caused by Electronic Signaling Error


Rescuers carry the body of a victim at the site of passenger trains that derailed in Balasore district, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, June 3, 2023.

A train was on the wrong track because of an electronic signaling system error, and that error led to India’s devastating train derailment that has killed nearly 300 people and injured more than 1,000.

Ashwini Vaishnaw, India’s railways minister, said in a television interview Sunday on New Delhi Television, “Who has done it and what is the reason will come out of an investigation.”

An official explanation of the cause of the crash came after the completion of the rescue operation following the derailment. Workers are now focused on clearing the tracks to restore train service.

The trains involved in the derailment Friday collided about 220 kilometers south of Kolkata.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the site Saturday, spending about half an hour at the location, surveying the relief efforts and talking to rescue workers. He later went to a hospital where some of the injured are being cared for, speaking to some of them and their doctors. He told reporters the government would do everything it could to help the survivors and punish those found responsible.

U.S. President Joe Biden, in a statement Sunday said “Jill and I are heartbroken by the tragic news of the deadly train crash in India. Our prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones and the many who suffered injuries in this terrible incident.”

Emergency workers had to climb on overturned train cars to rescue some victims, while other rescuers cut through the trains’ cars to provide emergency services.

Authorities say at least three multicar trains were involved in the derailment. All told, about 15 train cars derailed.

Train crashes are a frequent occurrence in India because of aging railway infrastructure. More than 12 million people ride thousands of trains across the country every day.

The train derailment canceled the inaugural run of a high-speed train between Mumbai and Goa, which Modi was to attend.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press.