Passengers queue along a platform to board the Chennai bound Coromandel Express at Shalimar station near Kolkata on June 7, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

KOLKATA: One of the train services involved in a triple collision in India’s deadliest railway disaster for decades resumed journeys on Wednesday, as officials revised the death toll up to 288.

“The Coromandal Express is back on track,” railway spokesman Aditya Kumar Chaudhary said, with a train departing Shalimar station near Kolkata on Wednesday afternoon on a 25-hour journey south to Chennai.

The train, which was full, chugged out of the station five minutes behind the scheduled time as scores of people looked on.

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The service was one of three trains involved in the crash near Balasore in the eastern state of Odisha on Friday.

As usual, long and winding queues formed for the train’s unreserved section.

“Four friends who were travelling on the ill-fated train went missing after the accident on Friday,” said Samaresh Mondal, 30, a migrant worker in the line.

“I am ready to accept my destiny. I am forced to go to Chennai to earn bread for me and my family.”

Pradeep Jena, Odisha’s top civil servant, said late on Tuesday that the official death toll had risen to 288.

At least 1,175 people were injured, with many of them in critical condition and still being treated in hospital.

Revised toll

Jena said the revised toll came after deaths were tallied from both hospitals and mortuaries and noted that 83 bodies remain unidentified.

Medical centres were overwhelmed by the number of casualties and there are fears the death toll could rise further.

The Coromandal Express was diverted onto a loop line before it slammed into a stationary goods train.

The collision flipped the carriages of the Coromandal Express onto another track.

The derailed compartments were then struck by the rear carriages of another train, the Howrah Superfast Express from India’s tech hub Bengaluru, which was passing in the opposite direction.

While trains began operating late Sunday past the crash site, Wednesday’s journey is the first service of the Coromandal Express to resume the route.

CBI collects evidence from accident site

Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is inquiring into the tragedy, has collected evidence from the accident site and Bahanga station, where the accident took place on June 2 evening.

According to sources, the CBI officials visited the accident site and Bahanaga Bazar Railway station twice on Tuesday and spent nearly 45 minutes again on Wednesday and collected vital information and evidence related to the accident.

The CBI team, along with the forensic and technical team, examined the main line, loop line, accident site, signalling room and station master’s office.

They have examined all employees and seized mobile phones of some of the Railway employees, who were on duty when the accident took place, the source said.

The team is likely to examine the call records, WhatsApp calls, messages and social media usage of the staff during its investigation.