A day after close to 300 people lost their lives in the tragic train accident in Odisha's Balasore district, social media users started sharing communal conspiracy theories on the reasons behind the mishap.
Some others pointed at a white structure, claimed it to be a mosque and called for an investigation.
The truth: The structure in the viral image was the Bahanaga ISKCON temple, not a mosque. Moreover, at the time the story was being written, the prima facie cause of the accident, according to the Indian Railways was a possible signalling error.
How did we find that out:
We looked for more visuals of the crash site and found a photograph in news agency Reuters that showed the complete structure.
The structure looked like a temple with the traditional shikara.
We then reached out to a rescue worker on the ground, who on the condition of anonymity, told us that the structure was the Bahanaga ISKCON temple and not a mosque.
We looked up temple on Google and found it next to the railway track on a Google Maps view.
We also found a video of the temple, while it was under construction five months ago in December 2022.
What the local reporters said: We reached out to the temple and some local reporters from Odisha who confirmed to us that the image does not show a mosque.
We spoke with Tamal Saha, a reporter who has been covering the tragedy from Balasore, who confirmed to us that the viral image shows the Bahanaga ISKCON temple near the train crash site.
The members associated with the ISKCON temple also confirmed to The Quint that the image shows the Bahanaga ISKCON temple.
We also received images of the temple situated near the crash site from Dipak Kumar Samal, a local reporter.
Statement from police about the communal claims: The verified Twitter account of the Odisha police tweeted that users are 'mischievously giving communal colour to the tragic train accident at Balasore.'
They also stated that action will be taken against those who are sharing claims by giving false communal narrative to the accident.
What do we know about the cause of the accident:
As per Indian Railways, a signalling error caused the Coromandel express to enter the loop track and crash with the stationary freight train.
The preliminary probe report, according to news agency PTI, said the signal “was given and taken off for the up main line for train number 12841 but the train entered the up loop line and dashed with the goods train which was on the loopline and derailed”.
Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the "root cause" of this train crash has been identified. He added that it happened due to a "change in electronic interlocking" and a detailed report on the investigation will be come out soon.
Conclusion: The structure next to the crash site was a temple and not a mosque as claimed by several social media users.
(Editor's Note: Copy has been updated to include a statement from Odisha Police.)
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