A ten-member team of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officers on Tuesday began investigating into the Friday’s triple train crash in the Balasore district two days after the Railway Board had recommended handing over the probe to the Central agency.
Meanwhile, the death toll in one of the deadliest rail mishap in India has gone up to 278 as the South Eastern Railway authorities reported death of three more persons injured in the accident. However, the Odisha government is yet to make an official announcement about the increase in the death toll.
The CBI team, accompanied by forensic experts, visited Bahanaga Bazar railway station and inspected the signal room at the railway station. It also examined different equipment and gadgets. They also spoke to the employees at the signal room and inquired about the functioning of different equipment.
Besides, the team inspected the accident site. They, however, refused to speak to the media.
The squad of the Central investigators also examined the railway tracks at the site and inspected both the loop line and the main line at Bahanaga, said an official of South Eastern Railway.
The railway safety panel besides the SER is conducting separate inquiry into the horrific mishap, said Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Khurda Road, Rinkesh Ray while adding that the signal for the Coromandel Express on the loop line was green. But since it is not possible from technical point of view, tampering with the electronic interlocking system may not be ruled out altogether, Ray added.
The railways had earlier put the death toll at 288. However, the state government later trimmed the toll to 275 saying that there was double counting of some of the dead bodies.
Reacting to the allegations that the state government is not projecting the exact toll, Odisha Chief Secretary PK Jena said his government has no intention to hide the deaths in the train crash and the entire rescue operation was being conducted in full public view.
Meanwhile, with over 100 bodies from Balasore triple train accident piling up in different hospitals here waiting for identification, AIIMS, Bhubaneswar has started DNA sampling of the claimants, an official said.
As many as 10 samples have so far been collected from the claimants, a senior official of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar said, adding bodies have now been shifted to containers where they can be preserved for a longer period. The bodies can now be preserved in a container for six months.
Of the 278 dead, 177 have been identified while another 101 need to be identified and handed over to their families.
The AIIMS, Bhubaneswar had received 123 bodies of which 66 have been identified and have been handed over to their relatives as per the legal procedures. Of the 57 bodies remaining, 41 have been preserved in two containers, said an official of the AIIMS.
Meanwhile, Panic gripped passengers of Secunderabad-Agartala Express after smoke billowed out of a bogie of the train near Berhampur railway station in Odisha on Tuesday. With Balasore train tragedy fresh in their memory, the passengers de-boarded the train at Berhampur railway station in panic. The East Coast Railway (ECoR) officials said that normalcy has been restored after the minor incident occurred due to an electrical issue.
It is reported that a minor electrical issue happened in the coach No. B-5 of Train No. 07030 Secunderabad-Agartala Express near Brahmapur station. The on-duty staff attended immediately and rectified the issue, ECoR said in a statement.