India train crash: 100 killed in derailment near Kanpur

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Rescuers are cutting through the wreckage to reach people trapped inside
Rescuers are cutting through the wreckage to reach people trapped inside

(BBC) The death toll following the derailment of a train in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state has now passed 100, with more than 150 injured, police say.

Fourteen carriages of the Indore-Patna Express derailed just after 03:00 local time on Sunday (21:30 GMT Saturday) near the city of Kanpur.

Rescuers are still trying to reach the injured and recover the dead from the twisted carriages.

The cause of the crash near the village of Pukhrayan is not yet known.

However, the Times of India quoted sources as saying a fracture in the track could have been to blame.

Krishna Keshav, who was travelling on the train, told the BBC: “We woke with a jolt at around 3am. Several coaches were derailed, everybody was in shock. I saw several bodies and injured people.”

Most of the victims were located in two carriages near the engine which overturned and were badly damaged.

Train derailment in northern India 20 NovMany of the victims were in two carriages close to the engine (AFP photo)

By Sunday afternoon, rescue workers were still using heavy machinery to try to reach survivors.

Senior railway official Pratap Rai told Reuters: “We are using every tactic to save lives but it’s very difficult to cut the metal carriages.”

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder, in Delhi, says rescuers have recently brought out some survivors, including two children, which brought cheers from onlookers.

Injured people in Kanpur, 20 NovMany of the injured were brought to Kanpur (AFP photo)

One passenger whose carriage did not derail told the Associated Press the train was going at normal speed. It stopped suddenly, said Satish Kumar, then restarted shortly before the crash.

Passenger Ruby Gupta, 20, was travelling to Azamagarh to be married on 1 December.

She told the Times of India that most of the people travelling with her had been found but that her father was still missing.

She said: “I cannot find my father and I have been looking everywhere for him. I have a fractured arm and my sisters have also sustained injuries.”

Many anxious relatives gathered at the station in Indore, where the train began its journey, holding pictures of loved ones, the Times said.

Compensation

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.

“Prayers with those injured in the tragic train accident.”

India Kanpur map

Mr Modi said he had spoken to Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, who was “personally monitoring the situation closely”.

On his own Twitter account, Mr Prabhu warned that “strictest possible action will be taken against those who could be responsible for accident”.

He said an investigation into the crash would begin immediately and compensation would be paid to “unfortunate passengers who died and to injured”.


India’s worst rail disasters

The Gaisal train crash in 1999The Gaisal crash in 1999 killed at least 290 people (AP photo)

Bihar, 6 Jun 1981: 250 deaths confirmed as passenger train derails on a bridge and plunges into the Baghmati river. Hundreds more are never found, with an estimated death toll ranging from 500 to 800

Firozabad, 20 Aug 1995: 358 people are killed as an express train hits a stationary express train

Gaisal, Assam, 2 Aug 1999: At least 290 killed as two trains carrying a total of 2,500 people collide

Khanna, 26 Nov 1998: At least 212 killed as a train collides with a derailed train

Rafiganj, 10 Sept 2002: Rajdhani Express derails on bridge, killing at least 130

West Midnapore, West Bengal, 28 May 2010: The Calcutta-Mumbai passenger train derails, killing at least 100. Police blame Maoist sabotage of the track


Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that India’s National Disaster Response Force was overseeing the rescue efforts.

Kanpur is a major railway junction and hundreds of trains pass through it every day.

Train accidents are fairly common in India, where much of the railway equipment is out of date. An accident in Uttar Pradesh in March last year killed 39 people and injured 150.

About 23 million passengers every day use the country’s vast network, the fourth largest in the world.

Last year, the government announced investments of $137bn (£111bn) over five years to modernise and expand the railways

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