Big question answered: What caused the fatal train crash in Odisha that killed over 260 people?

As the entire nation is mourning the loss of over 260 people who were killed in a fatal triple-train crash that happened during the night hours on Friday in Odisha, the cause behind the mishap has emerged after the preliminary probe even as the Union Minister of Railways announced that a high-level investigation will be conducted into the incident. 

The crashed trains were two passengers trains and a freight carrier. While one of the passenger trains was Coromandel Express en route to Chennai from Shalimar, Howrah, West Bengal, the other one was travelling from Bengaluru to Howrah. These trains were travelling through Odisha and during the night hours on Friday- they crashed on each other and derailed near the Bahanaga Bazar rail station in Odisha.

In what has become one of the deadliest train crashes in India, the visuals from the site have shown that the coaches of the derailed trains were scattered across the area, suggesting the intensity of the mishap. As the rescue efforts are taking place in the site with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to visit the accident site, the preliminary report has revealed the answer for the big question - what had caused the historical mishap? 

The report by the joint inspection stated on Saturday that the result of signalling failure could be the reason for the crash. The report said, "The signal was given and taken off for the up main line for 12841 (Coromandel Express), but the train entered into a loop line and crashed with goods train which was on loop line and derailed." "In the meantime, 12864 (Bengaluru to Howrah) passed through on the DW (downward main line and two coaches were derailed and capsized", the report added. 

The initial reports from the signalling control room of the Kharagpur division of the railways have also suggested that the mishap could have caused by human error. As per the video footage from the division, Coromandel Express, that was running at about 127 km per hour, took the wrong track, minutes before the crash occurred. The train took a wrong route shortly after passing Bahanagar Bazar station in Odisha at around 7.00 pm on Friday. 

It has been reported that over 260 people have been died so far while over thousand people have been injured. They have been rushed to several hospitals and as the trains carried passengers from several states including West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, the governments of these states have also joined the rescue mission and expediting the rescue measures, amid responding to the emergency calls from the people who were dismayed about the whereabouts of their loved ones who were on board. 

The Union government had also beefed up the mechanism to rescue the people who are trapped under the derailed coaches. Union Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw has reached the crash site and taken stock of the fatal accident and the rescue measures. Along with the Odisha rescue teams, the government had also deployed more personnel from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to the site to help the rescue mission. 

More shocking visuals are getting emerged from the site and they trigger more agony and sparked a debate about fixing the prevailing safety infrastructure in the railways, though the Indian government has been investing more on the railways in recent years, with enhancing the facilities and services. Entire nation was taken aback by the fatal crash and the Odisha government has announced a day of mounring on Saturday to pay respects to the deceased. 

After visiting the spot, Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told reporters that he had ordered a high-level investigation to determine the cause of the crash. He said that the Commissioner of Railway Safety, South East Circle will inquire into the Odisha train accident. "Our immediate focus is on rescue and relief. We will know more after the inquiry", he added. As the crash has made headlines beyond India, several global leaders have extended their condolences.  

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, "I am deeply saddened by the news of the loss of many precious lives and the injuries in the train accident in the State of Odisha. On behalf of the Government of Japan and people, I would like to express our heartfelt condolences to those who lost their lives and their bereaved families. I also pray for the speedy recovery of those who were injured." British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly took to Twitter and wrote, "Tragic news of the train crash in India. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. My thoughts are with the survivors and emergency services."