Investigations continue into the double train crash and derailment in eastern India that killed 275 people and injured hundreds.
The preliminary investigation carried out by the Indian government indicates on Sunday that the tragedy was caused "by an error in the electronic signaling system".
Authorities are still working at the scene to clear the twisted remains of the two passenger trains that derailed Friday night in the Balasore district of eastern Odisha state.
Hundreds injured and 275 dead after Friday's train crash in India. Photo: EFE
In that regard, official sources in Odisha revealed that so far the official death toll amounts to 275 people.
Through a statement, and after a high-level state official said there were more than 300 dead on Sunday morning, official sources revealed that so far there are 275 people dead.
The official explanation for the tragedy was that the Coromandel Express, a high-speed train, "received a signal to enter the main track," said Jaya Verma Sinha, a senior rail official.
Among the twisted irons, people seek to save people who were injured. Photo: EFE
This signal was later removed, and instead the train entered an adjoining secondary track, where it collided with a freight train carrying iron on a large scale.
After the collision, the carriages of the Coromandel Express overturned on another track, which derailed a third formation: the Yesvantpur-Howrah Express, which was coming in the opposite direction. That caused three trains to collide.
The passenger trains, carrying a total of 2,296 people, were not speeding, it said.
Verma attributed the incident to "an error in the electronic signaling system." At this time, different expert reports are being carried out to reveal whether the error was human or technical, he said.
The electronic system is a safety mechanism designed to prevent conflicting train movements. It also monitors the status of signals that tell drivers how far away the next train is, how fast they can run and the presence of trains stopped on the tracks.
"The system is 99.9% error-free. But the possibility of a 0.1% error is always there," she said. Asked if the accident could be the result of sabotage, he replied that "nothing is ruled out."
Most railway accidents in India are attributed to human error or "outdated" signalling equipment.
More than 12 million people ride 14,000 trains in the country each day, traversing 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) of track.
The plea of Pope Francis
This Sunday, Pope Francis asked to pray for the "numerous victims" of the train accident in India, the worst of the XXI century in the Asian giant.
Pope Francis asked "to pray for the victims of the train accident in India" on Sunday in St. Peter's Square. Photo: EFE
"I assure you of my prayers for the many victims of the train accident that occurred two days ago in India. I am close to the injured and their families. May our heavenly Father welcome into his kingdom the souls of the dead," the Pope implored after praying the Angelus in St. Peter's Square.
This Saturday, Francis had already expressed in a statement his "deep sadness" for Friday's train accident in India, a country he intends to visit during 2024.
With information from AP