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‘The carriages crushed us’: Hospital resembles war zone in town on front line of India’s rail tragedy

At Balasore General Hospital, room after room is full of the injured – many on the floor and in corridors.

Some described it as like a war zone in the immediate aftermath of India’s worst rail tragedy in more than two decades, with more than 300 now confirmed dead and some 900 injured.

Doctors were overwhelmed by an unending stream of patients, many with serious injuries.

One of the volunteers who rushed here to help described blood all over the floors as the hospital tried to cope with the number of casualties.


This is a small town in a poor part of West Bengal, suddenly on the front line of the worst train crash this century.

I met 24-year-old Gura, his legs, arms and head heavily bandaged.

Gura Palai’s wife, Soma, is by his side in hospital
Gura, who was injured in the train crash
Gura says he was crushed during the collision

He was among the many in the wards in shock and a great deal of pain.

He described the sudden moment he felt a huge jolting pressure as two trains collided.

“We were standing near the doors,” he said.

“The two carriages crushed us. We were four of us. I felt throttled as I was thrown out of the carriage and got out.

“I got hurt on my head, arms and legs. It pains.”

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with the victims of trains collision at a hospital in Balasore district in the eastern state of Odisha, India, June 3, 2023. India's Press Information Bureau/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited the hospital
SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB Nani Gopal Bari, 38, who was injured in trains collision, sits on a hospital bed in Balasore district in the eastern state of Odisha, India, June 3, 2023. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Nani Gopal Bari, 38, one of the hundreds injured

Some from this hospital have been taken four hours away for more specialist treatment.

But so many didn’t make it out alive.

Their families are now trying to make the journey here, to collect their bodies, travelling many hours – most by train.

A drone shot of rescuers work at the site of passenger trains accident, in Balasore district, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, Saturday, June 3, 2023. Pic: AP

Narendra Modi also visited the hospital. He was due to be launching new high-speed trains yesterday. Instead, he was visiting a scene with an exceptionally high death toll, even for a country with a long line of deadly crashes.

The cause of this one is yet to be established, but the early indications are suggesting a possible signalling fault.


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