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PM Modi chairs high-level meeting, to visit accident site later today

At least 238 dead and 900 injured

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a high-level meeting to take stock of the situation in Odisha where at least 238 people were killed in an accident involving three trains.

The Prime Minister will visit the accident site in Balasore and also the Cuttack hospital where the injured are being treated, according to sources. Union Home Minister Amit Shah was also present at the meeting called by the Prime Minister.

As per the latest estimates by the South Eastern Railway, the death toll in the train accident involving two express trains -- Bengaluru-Howrah Express and Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express -- and a goods train in Balasore was 238.

Around 650 injured passengers have been taken to hospitals of Gopalpur, Khantapara, Balasore, Bhadrak and Soro, the South Eastern Railway said.

According to the preliminary report by the State Emergency Operation Center, around 900 people are injured.

Seven National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Teams, five Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) Units and 24 Fire Services and Emergency Units engaged in rescue operations.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed Mi-17 helicopters for the evacuation of the deceased and injured.

According to the Eastern Command, IAF is coordinating the rescue efforts with the civil administration and Indian Railways.

Prime Minister Modi had on Friday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.

According to a statement by the Prime Minister's Office, the ex-gratia amount will be allotted from Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) to the next of kin of the dead.

According to Railway spokesperson Amitabh Sharma, the accident took place around 7 pm on Friday.

Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw reached the spot and supervised the rescue operation. He has ordered a detailed high-level inquiry on the incident, as reported by ANI, a partner of TV BRICS.

The rail safety commissioner will also conduct an independent inquiry, Vaishnaw said on Saturday.

Photo: flickr.com
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