A change in an electronic safety system was at fault for the tragedy in the state of Odisha, according to the government's railway chief
A three-way train crash in India which claimed the lives of almost 300 people was caused by an electronic signalling failure, the country's railway minister said on Sunday.
The rail tragedy, India's worst in decades, occurred on Friday evening at a station in the eastern state of Odisha when the high-speed passenger Coromandel Express collided with a cargo freighter loaded with iron ore.
The collision resulted in a number of cargo coaches falling onto the opposite track. Minutes later, a second passenger train crashed into the cars lying on the parallel line. In total, there were almost 2,300 people on board the passenger trains.
Speaking to ANI news agency, Vaishnaw said the accident took place due to a "change in electronic interlocking," referring to a system that controls train movements to make sure they do not get the signal to proceed until the track is clear.
Meanwhile, Jaya Verma Sinha, a senior railway official, claimed preliminary data indicated that the Coromandel Express received the signal to use the main track, but it was later changed. This resulted in the train entering an adjacent loop line, where it crashed into the freighter.
"The system is 99.9% error free. But 0.1% chances are always there for an error," she added.
Vaishnaw said the authorities had identified several people responsible for the accident, but stopped short of providing further details, citing the ongoing investigation. "Right now our focus is restoration... The work is underway, and we will definitely complete restoration well before our target of Wednesday morning," Vaishnaw stated.
While the death toll was earlier estimated at 288, with over 1,000 injured, Odisha state's Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena later revised the figure down to 275, explaining that authorities had mistakenly counted some bodies twice. He also noted that 88 bodies have been identified.