More than 100 bodies remain unclaimed after India rail disaster


The wreckage of rail coaches lies next to train tracks on June 04, 2023 in Bahanaga village in Balasore district, India.

(Photo by Abhishek Chinnappa/Getty Images)

  • Indian authorities are appealing families to help identify more than 100 unclaimed bodies after 275 people were killed in a train crash.
  • A passenger train hit a stationery train on Friday, jumped the tracks and hit another passenger train passing in the opposite direction.
  • Authorities were trying to source iced containers to help preserve the bodies.

Indian authorities have made fervent appeals to families to help identify more than 100 unclaimed bodies kept in hospitals and mortuaries after 275 people were killed in the country’s deadliest rail crash in at least two decades.

The disaster struck on Friday when a passenger train hit a stationary freight train, jumped the tracks and hit another passenger train passing in the opposite direction near the district of Balasore in the eastern state of Odisha.

Till Monday evening, about 100 bodies were yet to be identified, a senior state health department official told the Reuters news agency.

Al Jazeera’s Um-e-Kulsoom, reporting from state capital Bhubaneswar, said there was a desperate situation at a medical facility in the city where most of the bodies were brought in after the train accident.

“If they [relatives] find a body, they think it is a matter of relief because it is a closure,” she said. “They can take the body home and give a final sendoff. For others, the search continues.”

Bijay Kumar Mohapatra, health director of Odisha, said authorities were trying to source iced containers to help preserve the bodies.

“Unless they are identified, a post-mortem cannot be done,” Mohapatra said, explaining that under Odisha state regulations, no autopsy can be conducted on an unclaimed body until 96 hours have passed.

At Bhubaneswar’s biggest hospital, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), large television screens displayed pictures of the dead to help desperate families who are scouring hospitals and mortuaries for friends and relatives.

A detailed list was made of distinguishing features for each body, but relatives could first view photographs, however gruesome, to identify missing loved ones, a senior police official told Reuters.

The trains had passengers from several states and officials from seven states were in Balasore to help people claim the bodies and take them home, the police official added.

A forlorn Parbati Hembrum, from West Bengal’s Hooghly district, stood near the help desk at the Balasore railway station, looking for information on her son Gopal.

The 20-year-old had travelled in the Coromandel Express with three others from their village but while the other three returned home, Gopal has not.

Tarapada Tudu, standing with his relative Hembrum, said Gopal was admitted to Balasore hospital after the accident but when they looked for him there, the hospital said he was released the same day after being treated for minor injuries.

But, filled with dread over the lack of contact with Gopal, Tudu said he and Hembrum will travel to Bhubaneswar to look for him among the dead.

A team from the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) reached the site on Tuesday to start a probe into the cause of the disaster while a separate inquiry by the railway’s safety commission started on Monday.

“The CBI team is on the ground, picking up information on what happened, how it happened and who is behind it,” Al Jazeera’s Um-e-Kulsoom said.

A signal failure was the likely cause of the disaster, according to preliminary findings, which indicated the Coromandel Express, heading southbound to Chennai from Kolkata, moved off the main line and entered a loop track – a side track used to park trains – at 128km/h, crashing into the stationary freight train.

That crash caused the engine and the first four or five coaches of the Coromandel Express to jump the tracks, topple and hit the last two coaches of the Yesvantpur-Howrah train heading in the opposite direction at 126km/h on the second main track.

Following non-stop efforts to rescue survivors and clear and repair the track, trains resumed running over that section of the line on Sunday night.

Related Posts

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) logo  at the entrance to its headquarters in Moscow, in December 2023. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)

Russian loses appeal against Olympic ban because of its Ukraine invasion

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) logo at the entrance to its headquarters in Moscow, in December 2023. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP) The Court of…

Firetrucks are parked next to the residential block ravaged by a huge fire that killed at least four people, in Valenci. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN / AFP)

Four dead, 19 missing as fire guts polyurethane-clad Spanish apartment block

Firetrucks are parked next to the residential block ravaged by a huge fire that killed at least four people, in Valenci. (Photo by JOSE JORDAN /…

A handout picture released by the National Crime Agency (NCA) on 22 February 2024 shows packages of cocaine seized at the harbour of Southampton, southern England, announced the Organised Crime Agency (NCA). On 8 February 2024, British police made a record seizure of 5.7 tonnes of cocaine in a container in the port of Southampton. The cocaine, with a street value of more than £450 million according to UK market prices, was concealed in a cargo of bananas from South America. NCA investigators believe that the final destination of the goods was the German port of Hamburg.

UK authorities seize ‘biggest ever’ cocaine shipment worth £450m

A handout picture released by the National Crime Agency (NCA) on 22 February 2024 shows packages of cocaine seized at the harbour of Southampton, southern England,…

Bobi, in February 2023, in front of his birth place at his home in the village of Conqueiros in Leiria. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)

Guinness World Records yanks Bobi’s title as world’s oldest dog

Bobi, in February 2023, in front of his birth place at his home in the village of Conqueiros in Leiria. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA…

US President Joe Biden at an event in Culver City, California, on 21 February 2024. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

‘Crazy SOB’: Joe Biden is calling Vladimir Putin names to look like a cowboy, Kremlin says

US President Joe Biden at an event in Culver City, California, on 21 February 2024. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) Joe Biden is trying to…

The collapsed section of the Lixinsha bridge over a waterway in Guangzhou, in southern China's Guangdong province on 22 February. A cargo ship struck the bridge, causing cars to plummet into the water.  (Photo by CNS / AFP)

Two killed after ship hits bridge near China’s Guangzhou, plunging cars in the water

The collapsed section of the Lixinsha bridge over a waterway in Guangzhou, in southern China’s Guangdong province on 22 February. A cargo ship struck the bridge,…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *