06/03/2023, 20.27
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Diocese of Balasore helping the injured from the Odisha train disaster

by Nirmala Carvalho

While nearly 300 people are known to have died, bodies continue to be pulled from the wreckage. A local Catholic hospital and social outreach agency are helping passengers, most of whom come from other Indian states. Card Gracias offered the condolences of the country’s Church, which stands by the families, pained to see so much suffering. In a telegram, Pope Francis expresses his own sorrow and closeness to the victims and their families.

Balasore (AsiaNews) – The Coromandel Express, the train that links Shalimar to Chennai, derailed last night, at around 7 pm, near the Bahanaga Bazar station, south of Balasore (northern Odisha), colliding with the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express train, which was coming from the opposite direction.

Following the news of the accident, the Diocese of Balasore quickly got organised in the middle of the night to bring aid and relief to the victims of what with the passing of the hours is likely to be one of the world’s worst railway tragedies in recent times.

So far, the death toll is climbing towards 300 with some 900 people injured.

Archbishop Card Oswald Gracias of Mumbai expressed to AsiaNews the sorrow of the Catholic Church of India over this tragedy.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of lives in thIs grave train accident in Balasore, so many lives have been lost, the death toll is so high; it is sorrowful, so much suffering.

“I express my condolences to those who lost loved ones or suffered in this  train disaster and offer my heartfelt condolences to the families who mourn their loved ones.”

Pope Francis also issued a statement through a telegram sent on his behalf by Secretary of State, Card Piero Parolin, to Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to India.

The message reads: “Entrusting the souls of the deceased to the loving mercy of the Almighty, he (the pontiff) sends heartfelt condolences to those who mourn their loss. His holiness likewise offers prayers for the many injured and for the efforts of the emergency service personnel.”

Soon after the accident, the Jyoti Hospital, a multi-specialty charitable hospital run by the Diocese of Balasore, geared up for emergency surgery and medical services to injured passengers, as well as food and water to the people who accompanied them.

The hospital’s director, Father Peter, and some religious sisters went to the scene of the accident to help rescue and relief work, amid an apocalyptic scene.

The Balasore Social Service Society, the social outreach arm of the Diocese of Balasore, sent staff and volunteers to help the victims, especially the injured travellers from other Indian states.

“Most people are from Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar and other parts of Odisha,” said Fr Roy. “We are offering medical assistance, water, food rations and helping people get in touch with their families and console them in their trauma.

"We are also providing masks, gloves and other materials to the teams that continue to pull out bodies from the metal wreckage at the site of the tragedy.”

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