"We are very saddened by this tragic incident”, says Bishop. Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference (CBCI) commenting on Sunday’s train disaster near Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
The Indore-Patna train early Sunday Morning, derailed, perhaps due to a crack in the rails, killing at least 143 and injuring around 180.
"What happened - he says - is especially important because the railways are the common man's means of transportation". The Indian bishops conference, "offers its heartfelt Condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives and prays for the eternal repose of these dear departed. We also pray for those injured in the accident that the Almighty may grant them complete and quick healing".
Sunday’s disaster is one of the worst in recent years. Around 3 am (local time) the Indore-Patna train derailed for reasons yet to be determined. Hundreds of rescue workers rushed to the area and immediately understood the gravity of the situation: carriages had crumpled on each other, overturning, victims and wounded were trapped in the wreckage.
The provisional toll, set to rise, is about 143 confirmed dead and 180 wounded, with nearly 50 of them in critical condition. At the time of the derailment, there were more than 2,500 passengers on the train - one of the busiest sections of northern India - located mainly in the first two carriages which disintegrated on impact.
The convoy consisted of 14 wagons, probably old and poorly maintained. Although the causes of the incident are unclear, local newspapers reported the presence of a break in the tracks, which would have resulted in overturning the carriages.
Bp. Mascarenhas asks the government "to investigate thoroughly and immediately the cause of an accident of this magnitude and to take all measures that such tragedies never occur again."
India, during the economic boom, is deficient in terms of maintenance and infrastructure investment, in spite of its rail network being the third longest in the world. Over the years there have been many accidents, all due to the human error. In 1981 in Bihar a train derailed and plunged into a river, causing 250 deaths; in 1995 in Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh, an express train crashed into a train that had stopped on the tracks and caused the death of 358 persons; in 1999 at least 290 passengers died in the collision between two trains in Assam; in 2010 in West Bengal, the derailment of the Calcutta-Mumbai, killed more than 100 people.