More than 100 dead, hundreds injured after passenger trains derail in India


NEW DELHI — More than 100 people were killed and hundreds were injured after passenger trains derailed Friday in eastern India, trapping many people inside damaged rail cars, officials said.

At least 120 bodies had been recovered Odisha Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena said, adding that the death toll could grow.

Nearly 850 people were injured, hundreds of whom were sent to hospitals following the accident, which happened about 137 miles southwest of Kolkata. The cause was under investigation.

Nearly 500 police officers and rescue workers with 75 ambulances and buses responded, said Pradeep Jena, the top bureaucrat of the Odisha state.

Rescuers were attempting to free 200 people who were feared trapped in the wreckage, said D.B. Shinde, administrator of the state’s Balasore district.

Amitabh Sharma, a railroad ministry spokesperson, said 10 to 12 coaches of one train derailed, and debris from the mangled coaches fell onto a nearby track. It was hit by another passenger train coming from the opposite direction.

Up to three coaches of the second train also derailed.

The Press Trust of India news agency said the derailed Coromandel Express was traveling from Howrah in West Bengal state to Chennai, the capital of southern Tamil Nadu state.

A survivor told Asian News International he was asleep when the train car flipped and several people fell on him

“At that time, I was under all of them,” the survivor, who didn’t give his name, told the outlet. “When I came out of the train bogey, I saw someone without a leg, someone without an arm, someone had a completely messed up face.”

Another passenger, Gobind Mondal, told News18 Bangla he had given up all hope of survival after the train car he was on crashed.

“We thought we would die. We got out of the compartment with the help of a broken window,” he said. “We were taken to the dispensary for first aid. I am out of danger but I saw some injured people who are in very bad condition.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was distressed by the accident.

“In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon,” tweeted Modi, who said he had spoken to the railway minister and that “all possible assistance” was being offered.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said he was rushing to the accident site, while Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is expected to get there Saturday morning.

Despite government efforts to improve rail safety, several hundred accidents occur every year on India’s railways, the largest train network under one management in the world.

In November 2016, more than 100 people were killed when 14 coaches of a passenger train rolled off the track in northern India.

The following November, at least 39 people died and 50 were seriously injured in a train derailment in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

In August 1995, two trains collided near New Delhi, killing 358 people in the worst train accident in India’s history.

Most train accidents are blamed on human error or outdated signaling equipment.

More than 12 million people ride 14,000 trains across India every day, traveling on 40,000 miles of track.

Mithil Aggarwal and Rima Abdelkader contributed.



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