Odisha train crash: Railway Safety head records statements of injured drivers
The statements of engine driver Gunanidhi Mohanty and his assistant Hajari Behera, injured in the Odisha train crash and who are undergoing treatment at AIIMS Bhubaneswar, were recorded by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) on Monday (June 5).
Both were rescued from the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express that derailed near Bahanaga Bazar Station on June 2 that had claimed 275 lives and left around 1,200 injured.
Both the drivers are stable. While Mohanty was taken out of the ICU on Monday, Behera is awaiting a head surgery, South Eastern Railway (SER)’s Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) Aditya Choudhury told PTI.
Families of both the drivers have appealed to all for privacy and allow them to recover physically and mentally. They claimed that the drivers could not be blamed for the mishap as they operated the locomotive according to rules. Earlier, the Railway Ministry had apparently given the clean chit to both of them.
The Commissioner Railway Safety, SER Circle, which began its inquiry into the Odisha train crash on Monday, has recorded the statements of both of them, Choudhury said.
Sources said that an FIR was registered at the Government Railway Police Station (GRPS), Balasore, under sections of the Railway Act on June 3. On Sunday, the Railway Board had recommended a CBI probe into the Balasore train accident.
Around 51 hours after the triple train crash and barely five hours after the damaged tracks were restored, a coal-laden goods train from Vizag port to Rourkela Steel Plant became the first to run on the route around 10.40 pm on Sunday night.
The first high speed passenger train – Howrah-Puri Vande Bharat Express – passed through Balasore on Monday morning through the same tracks, officials said.
Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was present at the accident site and waved to the drivers when the train passed through, the officials said.
Three trains Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express, Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express and a goods train were involved in the pile-up on Friday, now being described as one of India’s worst train accidents.
The Coromandel Express rammed into a stationary goods train and many of its carriages overturned including some onto another train – the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express which was also passing by at the same time on Friday.
Investigators are looking into possible human error, signal failure and other possible causes behind the three-train crash.
(With inputs from agencies)