The three-train crash in Odisha on Friday, 2 May, involving the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and a freight train, in which at least 288 people have been feared killed and more than 1,100 injured, is one of the deadliest railway accidents since Independence.
Rescue operations are still on and the death toll is likely to go up.
A Bihar train derailment has been the deadliest so far, when a passenger train with more than 800 people on board derailed while crossing the Bagmati river and plunged into the water below June 6, 1981.
Official records put the death toll at 235, but it has been estimated that between 500 to 800 people were killed in the accident.
Ministers who resigned
Ariyalur in Tamil Nadu witnessed one of the major railway tragedies when a train plunged into the Marudaiyaru river and killed 144 people and injured several hundreds on November 23, 1956.
Owning up moral responsibility for the tragedy, Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned from the Jawaharal Nehru Cabinet, winning the praise of the prime minister.
Forty-three years after Shastri’s resignation, railway minister Nitish Kumar too stepped down on moral grounds after the Gaisal train disaster in Assam. At least 290 people were killed in the accident.
Though Mamata Banerjee, too, opted to step down after two train accidents in 2000, the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee rejected her resignation.
Another railway minister to resign on moral grounds was Suresh Prabhu. Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to wait, Prabhu opted to step down after the November 20, 2016, Pukhrayan train accident that killed at least 150 people.
Before the Ariyalur incident, South India had witnessed another train accidents almost six decades ago on December 23, 1964, when a cyclone battered Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu.
The Pamban–Dhanushkodi passenger was passing over the 2-km sea bridge connecting Rameshwaram with the mainland when winds touching speeds of 280 km per hour and 23-foot tidal waves washed away the train.
More than 110 people onboard the train were killed, though unofficial figures put the toll at around 200. As many as 1,800 people lost their lives in the cyclone.
Other deadly rail accidents
April 27, 1920: The Doon Express collided with a freight train near Moradabad. 120 people were killed and 50 others were injured.
September 2, 1956: A railway bridge collapsed killing at least 125 passengers and injuring 22 between Jadcherla and Mahbubnagar. some 100 km from Hyderabad.
July 17, 1937: Upper India Express from Calcutta (now Kolkata) derailed from an embankment about 24 km from Patna, killing at least 119 passengers and injuring 180.
September 27 , 1954: 319 Down Express derailed between Jangaon and Raghunathpalli (now in Telangana stations. 136 killed and more than 100 injured.
November 23 , 1956: Madras-Tuticorin Express plunged into a river 282 kilometres south of Madras. 104 killed.
July 22 , 1962: Howrah-bound Punjab Mail collided with a goods train at Dumraon station (Bihar). More than 100 killed.
July 23, 1963: More than 100 passengers were killed when Udyan Abha Toofan Express derailed at Etmadpur near Tundle Junction (UP).
July 8 , 1988: 105 people were killed when 10 carriages of the Trivandrum Central-bound Island Express from Bangalore fell into Lake Ashtamudi at Peruman in Kerala’s Kollam.
August 20 , 1995: Purushottam Express collided with a stationary Kanpur Express near Firozabad on the Delhi-Kanpur section. More than 350 people were killed. The Kanpur Express had stopped after hitting a nilgai.
November 26, 1998: The Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express collided with three derailed carriages of the Frontier Golden Temple Mail at Khanna (Punjab). 212 killed.
August 2 , 1999: A signalling error led to the collision of the Avadh Assam Express from New Delhi with the Brahmaputra Mail at Gaisal Railway Station in West Bengal. At least 290 people were killed.
September 9 , 2022: More than 140 people were killed when the Howrah Rajdhani Express derailed on a bridge between Gaya and Dehri-on-Sone stations.
July 11 , 2006: Coordinated bomb attacks by terrorists on commuter trains in Mumbai killed at least 200. More than 700 others were injured.
May 28 , 2010: An explosion derailed the Howrah–Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Jnaneswari Super Deluxe Express in West Bengal’s West Midnapur, and a freight train smashed the carriages, killing at least 140 and injuring about 200 people.
November 20, 2016: The Indore-Rajendra Nagar Express derailed, killing 152 and injuring another 260 people.
June 2, 2023: More than 200 people were killed and around 900 others were injured in a three-train collision at Bahanaga station in Odisha’s Balasore. Rescue operations are still on, and the toll is likely to go up.
(With PTI inputs)