India's Railways Minister announced on Sunday that the cause and those responsible for India's worst rail disaster in decades have been identified.
“We have identified the cause of the accident and the people responsible for it,” Indian Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told the ANI news agency on Sunday. He added that it was “not appropriate” to release further details before the final investigation report.
The provisional toll of the collision between three trains on Friday near Balasore, in the eastern state of Odisha, puts at least 288 dead.
According to the minister, “the change that occurred during the electronic interlocking caused the accident”, referring to a complex set of signals managing traffic on the tracks to prevent trains from colliding.
“The culprit and the manner in which the accident occurred will be discovered after a proper investigation,” he added.
Confusion reigned at this stage, but the daily Times of India, citing the preliminary investigation report, indicated that “human error” may have caused the collision between three trains, one of the worst rail disasters in the country's history.
The Coromandel Express, linking Calcutta to Madras, was given the green light on Friday to run on the main line, but was rerouted due to an error human on a track where there was already a freight train, according to the newspaper.
The passenger train then struck the freight convoy at a speed of about 130 km/h. Three carriages then fell onto the adjacent track, hitting the rear of an express train which was operating between Bangalore and Calcutta. It was this collision that caused the most damage, adds the Times, citing the preliminary report.
Chief Secretary of State of Odisha, Pradeep Jena , confirmed that approximately 900 injured had been hospitalized.