Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived Saturday at the site of the massive train derailment that claimed the lives of nearly 300 people and injured close to 900. Officials said Saturday that no more survivors have been found.
Modi spent about half an hour at the site, 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.
A report in The Times of India said one of the trains involved in the derailment entered the wrong track just moments before it left the rails.
“By 10 p.m. (on Friday) we were able to rescue the survivors. After that it was about picking up dead bodies,” Sudhanshu Sarangi, director of Odisha state's fire and emergency department, told The Associated Press. “This is very, very tragic. I have never seen anything like this in my career.”
The accident happened Friday night about 220 kilometers south of Kolkata.
India has declared Saturday a national day of mourning out of respect to the victims.
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.
Anubha Das, a passenger on one of the trains, told Reuters he would never be able to forget what he saw. "Families crushed away, limbless bodies and a bloodbath on the tracks," he said.
The Times of India reported that eyewitnesses said that the impact of the trains was so great that “scores of people were thrown out of the train through the broken doors and windows.”
Authorities say at least three multicar trains were involved in the derailment. All told, about 15 train cars derailed.
People who lived near the scene of the wreck rushed to the site to help in rescue efforts. Likewise, reports say that many people have also gone to the hospital to donate blood.
The rescue work was almost done, Amitabh Sharma, a Railroad Ministry spokesperson, said Saturday. Workers will start removing the wreckage and repair the tracks soon, he said.
Train crashes are a frequent occurrence in India due to the railways’ aging 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.