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Dalai Lama Expresses Sadness Over Indian Rail Tragedy

The Dalai Lama with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in November 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor. From

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written to the chief minister of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, expressing his sorrow over the tragic loss of life stemming from the horrific rail collision that took place there on Friday.

At least 275 people lost their lives and in excess of a thousand people were injured in Odisha’s Balasore District on 2 June in a three-way train collision that has been described as “India’s worst this century.” (BBC News)

In his letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday, the Dalai Lama expressed sympathy for the relatives of the victims: “I offer my condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones,” His Holiness wrote, “and pray for all those who have been injured and others affected by this tragedy.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)

The Dalai Lama’s letter to Patnaik continued:

I very much appreciate that the State Government and other agencies, including those of the Central Government, are doing their utmost to provide medical treatment and support to the injured and other people affected by this tragic accident. . . .

As you know, I have had the opportunity to visit Odisha many times and also had the honour to meet you, as we did in 2017.

(His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)

His Holiness also pledged that The Dalai Lama Trust, established in 2003 to support the activities for advancement and welfare of the people in general and Tibetans in particular, would make a donation to help fund medical treatment for the victims, and to support relief and rescue activities. 


On the evening of 2 June, passenger cars of the Coromandel Express train and SMVT-Howrah Super Fast Express train derailed after the Coromandel Express was diverted on to a track occupied by a stationary freight train. As cars of the Coromandel Express were thrown from the line, they collided with the SMVT-Howrah Super Fast Express as it passed traveling in the opposite direction.

According to media reports, investigations are underway into the cause of the tragedy, which is the most deadly incident of its kind in India since 1995, when two trains collided near Delhi, killing 358.

Media reports have indicated that in the hours and days since the collision, many frantic relatives have struggled to determine whether their loved ones were among the dead or injured, with bodies and survivors still being recovered from the twisted wreckage 36 hours after the disaster.

The BBC News website reported that one woman, Lilavati Devi, had traveled 30 hours to reach Balasore to look for her 22-year-old son, searching hospitals and morgues in the area. Her son, Raja Sahani, was traveling with relatives to the city of Bangalore to work as a day laborer, from their hometown in the northeastern state of Bihar.

Eight other members of her family who were on one of the trains had been located, the report said.

“I pray that we find him somewhere, one way or another,” said Devi. “There’s nothing more I want. May God keep my son safe.” (BBC News)

See more

Expressing Sympathy to Naveen Patnaik, Odisha CM (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The Dalai Lama Trust
Probe into India rail disaster begins as train services resume (Al Jazeera)
India train disaster: Relatives in desperate search for missing loved ones (BBC News)
India train disaster: signal fault identified as cause, says minister (The Guardian)

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