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Sunday, November 20, 2016, 10:28

120 killed in Indian train derailment

By Agencies
120 killed in Indian train derailment
Indian rescue workers search for survivors in the wreckage of a train that derailed near Pukhrayan in Kanpur district on Nov 20, 2016. (Photo / AFP)

NEW DELHI -- The death toll in deadly train crash on Sunday in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has reached upto 120, of whom, 72 were in serious condition, police said.

Another 200 are reported to be injured in the accident.

The death toll was expected to rise further because rescue workers had yet to gain access to one of the worst-damaged of the 14 coaches that derailed, said Daljeet Chaudhary, a director general of police.

Witnesses told local media they woke up to a deafening bang and found themselves thrown around

The crash occurred following derailment of 14 carriages of the Indore-Patna Express train early Sunday at 3:00 am (local time) near Pukhrayan town of Kanpur Dehat district, about 149 km southwest of Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh.

The ill-fated train, in which over 500 passengers were on board, was traveling from Indore city of Madhya Pradesh and destined to reach Patna city in Bihar.

Rescuers used cutting torches to open the derailed train cars to try to reach those trapped inside, while cranes were deployed to lift the coaches from the tracks. However, rescuers moved cautiously because some of the coaches were precariously tilted, and there was a danger that they could topple over, possibly injuring those trapped inside.

"We are being very careful in using the cutting torches," Chaudhary said.

Authorities have cancelled and diverted several trains after the accident along the track.

Witnesses told local media they woke up to a deafening bang and found themselves thrown around.

"I was asleep and suddenly woke up to a deafening noise, after which I found myself thrown on the floor of the coach," Amit Krishna a witness said. "Later on I saw coaches overturned with injured crying out in pain and several bodies scattered around."

Ramchandra Tewari, a passenger who suffered a head injury, said he was asleep when he was suddenly flung to the floor of his coach.

"There was a loud sound like an earthquake. I fell from my berth and a lot of luggage fell over me," Tewari told reporters from his hospital bed in the city of Kanpur. "I thought I was dead, and then I passed out."

120 killed in Indian train derailment
Onlookers and survivors gather next to wreckage of an Indian train that derailed near Pukhrayan in Kanpur district on Nov 20, 2016. (Photo / AFP)

Another passenger, Satish Kumar, said the train was traveling at normal speed when it stopped suddenly.

"It restarted, and then we heard a crash," Kumar, whose coach remained standing on the track, said at the derailment site. "When we came out of the train, we saw a few coaches had derailed."

The impact of the derailment was so strong that one of the coaches landed on top of another, crushing the one below, said Brig. Anurag Chibber, who was heading the army's rescue team.

"We fear there could be many more dead in the lower coach," he said, adding that it was unclear how many people were in the coach.

Anxious relatives of passengers searched for their family members among the injured and the dead at hospitals in Kanpur.

The railway officials said it arranged transport for survivors to help them proceed to their destinations in other trains and buses. The ministry released helpline numbers for the anxious relatives, who were worried for their kins travelling in the train.

Indian Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu reached the accident spot to oversee the rescue efforts. The cause of the derailment was not immediately clear.

"Strictest possible action will be taken against those who could be responsible for accident," Prabhu wrote on twitter warned that.

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

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have expressed heartfelt condolences to families of deceased in the accident.

"Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families," Modi posted on his Twitter account.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu arrived at the site by Sunday evening to monitor the rescue and relief operations. He said a special train has been arranged to take passengers from the derailed train to Patna, according to the PTI news agency.

Kanpur is a major railway junction, and hundreds of trains pass through the city every day. After the derailment, several trains using the line were diverted to other routes, Anil Saxena, spokesman for Indian Railways, said in New Delhi.

Indian sprawling railways is the world's third largest network, ferrying around 23 million people each day.

Modi has pledged to invest $137 billion over the next five years to modernize India's railway network , which is used by around 23 million passengers a day.

Accidents are relatively common on India's sprawling rail network as it lacks modern signaling and communication systems. Most accidents are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.

Last year a train accident in Uttar Pradesh killed 39 and injured 150.

In 2012, an Indian government report said about 15,000 people are killed every year in train accidents in the country, caused mainly by outdated equipment and overstretched staff.

The country's worst railway accident occurred in 1981, when a passenger train fell into the Baghmati River in northern India, killing nearly 800 people.

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