Chidambaram regrets delay in train rescue work

New Delhi, July 21: The Union home minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, on Wednesday regretted the delay in rescue and relief teams reaching the train accident site at Sainthia in West Bengal and said use of helicopters or small planes on such occasions should be looked into.

“I was informed that the first relief team could leave only about 2 hours and 30 minutes after the accident happened.

“The second team could only leave seven hours after the accident and they had to drive for about 220 km which means there is a clear gap in the mobility of the disaster team,” Mr Chidambaram said.

“We need to increase our capacity to be able to move disaster relief teams quickly which means perhaps helicopters, small planes. All this would cost money but I think capacity has to be built,” he said.

Mr Chidambaram was speaking at a function organised by the National Disaster Management Authority.

The home ministry later clarified that Mr Chidambaram’s remarks on the Sainthia railway accident were not a criticism of the railway ministry.

A statement issued by his office said a section of the media was “mischievously” reporting the minister’s statement as a criticism of the railway ministry.

Some Left parties also seem to have deliberately misinterpreted the statement, it said adding “this statement is being issued to clarify the matter”.

Mr Chidambaram said the capacity of disaster management is tested only when a disaster strikes, and the capacity has to be increased.

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