Bhubaneswar, June 3 (IANS) Terming the horrific train accident in Odisha’s Balasore as an extremely serious incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that the government will not leave any stone unturned to provide best medical facility to the injured, besides vowing that those found guilty will be punished stringently.
Speaking to the media at the Balasore Hospital after meeting the injured passengers, Modi said, “People of several states were travelling in these two trains and many of them have lost someone. It is a painful incident and it is very tough to imagine about those who lost their lives.”
“Those who have died cannot be brought back. But the government will stand by their families. This is a very serious incident. A probe has been ordered. Whoever is found guilty will be punished stringently,” he added.
The Prime MInister also thanked the Odisha government and the local administration for helping the passengers of the two trains and also thanked the local people who rushed to help as they were the first responders.
Modi also hailed the people of the area and the youth for donating blood and working through the night to help in the rescue and relief operation.
The Prime Minister said, “Railways put all its might in the relief operations and it is also working for track restoration. I visited the accident site and also spoke to the injured passengers. I don’t have words to express my grief. I pray to god to give everyone of us the courage to pass this hour of grief.”
Earlier, Modi went to the site of the accident that claimed at least 288 lives besides leaving over 900 injured, and took stock of the situation.
According to government officials, Modi reviewed the relief works that are underway at the site of the mishap.
He also interacted with the local authorities, personnel from the disaster relief forces, and railway officials.
The Prime Minister emphasised on a ‘Whole of Government’ approach to mitigate the monumental tragedy. Modi also spoke to the Cabinet Secretary and the Union Health Minister from the site and asked them to ensure that all kinds of help is provided to the injured and their families.
The Prime Minister said that special care must be taken to ensure that the bereaved families don’t face inconvenience and those affected keep getting all the assistance they need.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who reached Balasore earlier in the day, briefed the Prime Minister about the accident and also about the rescue and relief operations.
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was also present at the accident site.
About 16 hours after the accident, which involved two Express trains — Coromandel and SMVP-Howrah Superfast Express — and a goods train, the rescue operation was announced to be complete on Saturday afternoon by the Railways, following which restoration work commenced.
The Chennai-bound Coromandel Express and the Howrah-bound SMVP-Howrah Superfast Express trains met with an accident on Friday evening as 21 coaches of the two trains derailed near Bahanaga Bazar railway station in Odisha’s Balasore district.
Friday’s accident brought back the horrific memories of another deadly train accident in UP’s Firozabad in 1995, in which 358 people died.
In a similar accident on August 2, 1999, the Brahmaputra Mail collided with the Awadh-Assam Express near Gaisal in Assam, which claimed the lives of approximately 290 people.