More than 50 dead in India train disaster: police

  • In World/Latin America
  • 2018-10-19 18:03:43Z
  • By Narinder Nanu, With Abhaya Srivastava in New Delhi

Amritsar (India) (AFP) - More than 50 people were killed Friday after a speeding train ran over revellers celebrating a Hindu festival in northern India, with eyewitnesses saying they were given no warning before disaster struck.

A crowd had gathered on railway tracks in the city of Amritsar in Punjab state to watch a fireworks show marking the Dussehra festival when the train barrelled down the line at speed.

"There are more than 50 dead. The priority now is to take the injured to the hospital," Amritsar city police commissioner S. S. Srivastava told reporters.

More than 60 people who were injured were being given emergency treatment at various hospitals across the city, he added.

"There was a lot of noise as firecrackers were being let off and it appears they (victims) were unable to hear the approaching train," another police official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

An eyewitness told a local TV channel there was "utter commotion" when the crowds noticed the train "coming very fast" towards them.

"Everyone was running helter-skelter and suddenly the train crashed into the crowds of people," he said.

Another eyewitness said people were taking pictures on their mobile phones and "they were not given any warning that they should not stand on the tracks."

TV footage showed crowds gathered around the venue where an effigy of demon king Ravana was set alight, exploding into a huge fireball.

Many who had climbed on rooftops for a glimpse of the action clapped and cheered as the fireworks exploded.

But the festive scenes soon turned tragic.

"I have lost my child, I want him back," an inconsolable mother said, wailing and beating her chest.

Some relatives of the deceased blamed the authorities for allowing a "big function" to be held next to the railway track.

An AFP photographer at the scene said some victims had lost limbs in the accident while others suffered head wounds.

- 'Heart-wrenching tragedy' -

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered an investigation into the accident and announced a monetary compensation of 500,000 rupees ($6800) each to the family of the victims.

"We have asked all hospitals to remain open through the night so that the injured can be treated," Singh told reporters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was extremely saddened by the "heart-wrenching tragedy" and asked officials to provide immediate assistance to the injured.

India's railway network is the world's fourth largest and remains the main form of travel in the vast country, but it is poorly funded and deadly accidents often occur.

The country is home to hundreds of railway crossings that are unmanned and particularly accident prone, with people often ignoring oncoming train warnings.

A 2012 government report described the loss of 15,000 passengers to rail accidents every year in India as a "massacre".

Premier Modi has pledged $137 billion over five years to modernise the crumbling network.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal said Friday he was cancelling his trip to the US and returning to India immediately.

"May God give strength to the bereaved and injured," Goyal tweeted.

"Railways is providing all possible assistance at the site."

Millions of Hindus celebrate the Dussehra festival by burning giant effigies in a move symbolising the triumph of good over evil.

Disasters at religious festivals are not uncommon in India with police and volunteers often overwhelmed by the sheer size of the crowds.

Im 2016, 24 people died after a stampede broke out in the Hindu holy town of Varanasi.


More Related News

Vietnam and India agree to boost trade, defense cooperation
Vietnam and India agree to boost trade, defense cooperation
  • World
  • 2018-11-20 06:44:42Z

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Vietnam and India have agreed to boost their trade while expanding their cooperation in defense and security, among other areas.

Kohli says weakened Australia still
Kohli says weakened Australia still 'world-class'
  • World
  • 2018-11-20 06:38:45Z

India captain Virat Kohli insisted Tuesday Australia have the quality to upset the odds in their Twenty20 series and said his team will be focusing on the "little things" to come out on top. The visitors open their tour with the first of three T20s in Brisbane on Wednesday ahead of four Tests

New machine aims to end India
New machine aims to end India's sewer death shame

Hundreds of "manual scavengers" die each year cleaning out sewers in cities across India but a machine unveiled for Monday's World Toilet Day could help to end that tragic record. More than 1,300 have died, mainly suffocated, in the past three years, according to the Sulabh International charity. The men are called "manual scavengers" because they mainly scrape the waste with their bare hands without any protective gear or masks.

AFC Asian Cup 2019: Set-pieces can be India
AFC Asian Cup 2019: Set-pieces can be India's best chance to beat the odds

Less than 60 days remain for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup to get underway in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the clock ticks down on the continent's biggest footballing prize. After a gap of eight years, India are back on Asia's biggest stage and have been drawn in a tough group which includes the hosts UAE, alongside Thailand and Bahrain. Stephen Constantine and his men are the in the final phase of their preparations for the tournament with a 1-2 defeat to Jordan in an international friendly at Amman being their latest outing.

India fight valiantly before going down 2-1 against Jordan
India fight valiantly before going down 2-1 against Jordan

A freak goal from Jordan's goalkeeper Amer Shafi (25') gave the hosts the lead which was doubled by Ehsan Haddad (58') in the second half. India were a much better side after conceding the second and even pegged one back when Nishu Kumar (61') scored on his international debut. India head coach Stephen Constantine was forced to make wholesale changes to the side that drew 0-0 against China PR and went into the match without a genuine striker as all the forwards at his disposal arrived in Amman with just 24 hours before kick-off.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Latin America

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.