(Bloomberg) -- Rescuers continued to search for survivors in from a three-train collision that killed more 280 people and left hundreds more injured in the country’s deadliest rail accident in nearly three decades.
Television footage showed searchers carrying gas torches and electric cutters, working overnight to find passengers still trapped in the mangled train carriages littered across the tracks. Rescue and restoration operations by the National Disaster Response Force, firemen and medical teams continued throughout Saturday.
The fatalities from the incident rose to 288 by Saturday evening, Indian Railways said in a statement. More than 800 passengers were injured. A high-level inquiry has been ordered into the accident, it said.
The catastrophe occurred Friday evening when some coaches of an express train derailed near Balasore in the eastern state of Odisha, falling onto a side track. Another express train coming from the opposite direction hit the carriages, causing its coaches to crash into a stationary goods train, according to Times of India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the accident site on Saturday and a nearby hospital, and reviewed the rescue and relief efforts. No stone will be left unturned to provide all possible medical help to those injured, Modi said, adding the government stands with the bereaved family members who have lost their loved ones. The Odisha government has ordered a state of mourning.
India’s rail network, one of the largest in the world, carries hundreds of millions of passengers each month but also suffers from scores of accidents. Most are blamed on outdated signaling equipment or human error. About 3,000 people have been killed in train accidents since 2000. In 1995, more than 300 people died in a collision between two trains near the northern town of Agra.
Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also visited the site. Envoys of several countries have offered their condolences for the loss of lives.
--With assistance from Pratik Parija and Debjit Chakraborty.
(Updates with death toll and Modi’s visit to accident site in fifth paragraph.)
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