West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the horrific train accident in Odisha’s Balasore district was the “biggest of the century” and a proper investigation was needed to get to the truth.
Banerjee, who was the railway minister twice, flew to the accident site on Saturday afternoon to take stock of rescue operations. She spoke to Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and other senior officials who were already present there.
“This is the biggest train accident of this century and a proper investigation must be conducted,” Banerjee told reporters.
"Something must be behind this. The truth must come out. Why didn't the anti-collision system work?" Banerjee questioned.
Banerjee announced that her government would pay Rs 5 lakh compensation to the families of passengers from West Bengal killed in the accident.
She also offered her government’s full assistance to the Railways and the Odisha government. "We have already sent 70 ambulances, 40 doctors and nurses to help the injured," she said.
The railways announced an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased, Rs 2 lakh for those grievously injured and Rs 50,000 for those who got minor injuries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too expressed his distress over the accident, and announced an additional ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured from the PM's National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
The train crash, the fourth deadliest in India according to available records, happened near Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore district, about 250 km south of Calcutta and 170 km north of Bhubaneswar, around 7 pm on Friday, prompting the Railway Ministry to order a probe.
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