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Indian PM Modi holds high-level meet on Odisha railway tragedy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a high-level meeting with railway officials and will tour the site this week weekend to take stock of the situation after at least 238 people were killed in an accident involving three trains in Odisha, eastern India, on June 2.

As per latest estimates by the South Eastern Railway, the death toll in the train accident involving two express trains, Bengaluru-Howrah Express and Shalimar-Chennai Coromandel Express, and a goods train in Balasore is expected to rise. Around 650 injured passengers have been taken to the hospitals of Gopalpur, Khantapara, Balasore, Bhadrak and Soro, the South Eastern Railway said.

Prime Minister Modi has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 200,000 each to the kin of the deceased. According to a statement by the Prime Minister's Office, the ex-gratia amount will be allotted from Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) to the next of kin of the dead.

Several coaches of the 12864 Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, on the way to Howrah, derailed and fell on an adjacent track. The 12841 Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express coming from the opposite direction on a parallel track rammed into the derailed coaches. Some Coromandel Express coaches derailed and hit the stationary goods train on the third track.

According to Railway spokesperson Amitabh Sharma, the accident took place around 7 pm local time on June 2. Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnav reached the spot and supervised the rescue operation. He has ordered a detailed high-level inquiry om the incident.

The rail safety commissioner will also conduct an independent inquiry, Vaishnav said.

"Our focus is on rescue and relief operations. Restoration will begin after clearance from the district administration," the Union railway minister said. 

(ANI)

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