India’s BALASORE, June 6 – After the death toll in the nation’s most extensive rail crash in more than 20 years grew to 288, Indian officials pleaded with families in a heartfelt appeal on Tuesday to assist in identifying 83 unclaimed bodies housed in hospitals and mortuaries.
The tragedy occurred on Friday when a passenger train in the eastern state of Odisha crashed a halted goods train, jumped the tracks, and struck another passenger train traveling in the other direction.
Health director for Odisha, Bijay Kumar Mohapatra, told that the search was underway for iced containers to help preserve the unidentified bodies.
“Unless they are identified, a post-mortem cannot be done,” According to state laws in Odisha, an autopsy cannot be performed on an unclaimed body until 96 hours have passed, Mohapatra added.
The state government reported that 205 bodies had been identified and turned over, raising the death toll from 275 to 288. Odisha Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena said the remaining 83 would be retained.
Large television screens at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the largest hospital in the state capital Bhubaneswar, showed images of the deceased to aid frantic families searching hospitals and cemeteries for friends and family.
A senior police official told that although relatives could first examine the horrifying images to identify lost loved ones, a precise list of distinguishing features for each body was compiled.
The officials from seven states were at Balasore to assist people in claiming the remains and transporting the deceased home, the police official added. The trains carried passengers from multiple states.
All the assistance, nevertheless, was insufficient for some families.
When officials told Niranjan Patra that his aunt Manju Mani Patra’s body appeared to have been given to someone else after being transported on the Coromandel Express, Niranjan Patra was astonished.
Patra claimed that although his family had identified her from the government’s images of the deceased, they could not locate her remains in any of the hospitals in Bhubaneswar.
“We don’t want the compensation; we want to perform her last rites. No one can tell us where her body is,” At the Balasore train station’s assistance desk, Patra said.
The support desk was also surrounded by a despondent Parbati Hembrum from the Hooghly district of West Bengal, searching for information about her son Gopal.
The 20-year-old had taken the Coromandel Express with three other villagers, but Gopal had not yet returned to his house.
According to Tarapada Tudu, standing next to his relative Hembrum, Gopal was taken to the hospital in Balasore following the accident. Still, when they saw him there, the facility claimed he had been treated for minor injuries and released the same day.
But out of fear of not hearing from Gopal, Tudu said that he and Hembrum would go to Bhubaneswar to search for him among the dead.
Additionally, there were instances of duplicate claims for dead bodies.
“In those cases, we are going for DNA sampling and matching. We have already preserved DNA of the dead bodies,” Prateek Singh, a senior police official, told reporters.
To investigate the disaster’s cause, a team from the federal Central Bureau of Investigation traveled to the scene on Tuesday. The railway safety commission launched a separate investigation on Monday.
According to preliminary findings, the Coromandel Express, traveling from Kolkata to Chennai southbound, moved off the main line and into a loop track, a side track used to park trains, at a speed of 128 kph (80 mph), colliding with the parked goods train. This indicates a signal failure was likely to blame for the accident.
Because of that collision, the Coromandel Express’s engine, the first four or five coaches, and the last two coaches of the Yeshwantpur-Howrah train, which was traveling at 126 kph on the second main track, were struck.