The Odisha government is struggling to find space in morgues to accommodate those killed in the triple-train accident at Balasore, with the toll already at 288.
The mortuaries in Balasore cannot accommodate so many, so 160 bodies are to be moved to Bhubaneswar, 200km away. The bodies will be accommodated in different morgues in city hospitals till the process of identification is complete.
Sources said around 25 children below the age of 10 were among the dead.
Odisha chief secretary P.K. Jena said: “The death toll has reached 288. The main challenge for the administration is the identification of the deceased and the disposal of the bodies. Whenever the relatives are able to provide evidence, the bodies will be handedover after autopsies. If not identified, we will go for DNA tests and follow other protocols.”
On Saturday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the accident site at Bahanaga. Modi asked railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw about the cause of the accident and the treatment being provided to the survivors.
The Prime Minister held a meeting with railway and Odisha government officials to discuss the rescue operation and reportedly asked them to restore services on the route. Vaishnaw informed Modi that the rescue operation was almost complete and restoration of the tracks would be done soon.
Later, Modi visited Balasore Medical College and Hospital, about 20km from the accident site, and interacted with the injured passengers and assured them all help.
Before leaving for Delhi, Modi said: “The government has taken the incident very seriously and issued instructions for inquiry from all possible angles. Anyone responsible for the heart-breaking accident will be dealt with sternly. They will not be spared and will be given stringent punishment.”
An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh will be given from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to the next of kin of each deceased person. The injured will receive Rs 50,000 each. The railway ministry has also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh in case of death, Rs 2 lakh for grievous injuries and Rs 50,000 for minor injuries.