Passenger and freight trains were running again on Monday, June 5, at the site of the worst rail disaster in recent decades in India, whose death toll has been revised downwards.

The cause of the collision between three trains on Friday night near Balasore, Odisha, which killed nearly 300 people and injured more than a thousand, has been identified by authorities as being linked to a problem in the switch system.

Authorities initially announced a death toll of 288 but the Odisha state government has since revised it to 275, with some bodies mistakenly counted twice. Of the 1,175 injured, 382 are still hospitalized, authorities said Sunday.

See also Rail accident in India: Narendra Modi at the bedside of victims

Fears remain, however, that the death toll could rise as medical centres are overwhelmed with wounded, many in serious condition.

According to medical staff, those most seriously injured have been transferred to better-equipped hospitals in the region's major cities. Many survivors remain treated in Balasore's main public hospital.

"No one responsible" for the accident will be spared

Gura Palai, a 24-year-old day labourer from Jharkhand state with serious leg and shoulder injuries, is being treated in the hospital's small orthopaedic ward with his wife, child and uncle at his bedside. And while his family says they are happy that he survived, they are also worried about the future.

"He has to undergo leg surgery and doctors say recovery will take some time," his uncle, who did not give his name, told AFP. "He is the only one who earns a living for his young family. How will they survive?" he asks.

"No one responsible" for the accident will be spared, promised Saturday Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the scene of the disaster and met injured people in hospital.

Since the disaster, large green nets have been erected along the tracks, hiding the carcasses of disemboweled wagons, pushed on the side of the road.

On Sunday, India's railway minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, said the "cause of the accident and the people responsible for it" had been identified. He said that "the change that occurred during the electronic switch is at the origin of the accident".

The minister was observed, hands clasped in prayer, as a first train loaded with coal passed through the site of the disaster late Sunday, 51 hours after the accident.

Signalling "human error"

The initial findings of the investigation have not yet been made public but the Times of India, citing a preliminary investigation report, said on Sunday that a "human error" in signaling may have caused the collision.

The Coromandel Express, linking Kolkata to Madras, had been given the green light to run on the main track but was diverted to a track where a freight train was already located, according to the newspaper.

The passenger train then collided at a speed of about 130 km/h with the freight convoy near Balasore, about 200 kilometers from Bhubaneswar, the capital of the state of Odisha.

Three cars fell on an adjacent track, hitting the rear of an express train that was flying between Bangalore and Kolkata.

At this stage, this rail accident is the deadliest in India since the head-on collision of two passenger trains on August 2, 1999 at Gaisal railway station in West Bengal, which killed 285 people.

India has seen a number of fatal train accidents, but safety has improved in recent years thanks to new investment and technological improvements. The deadliest in the country's history was on 6 June 1981 when, in the state of Bihar, seven carriages of a train crossing a bridge fell into the Bagmati River, killing between 800 and 1,000 people.

With AFP

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