Saturday 21 April 2018

At least 115 passengers killed as train derails

An injured Indian passenger is treated at a hospital in Kanpur. Photo: Getty
An injured Indian passenger is treated at a hospital in Kanpur. Photo: Getty

Rajesh Kuman Singh

At least 115 people were killed and about 150 injured, 72 of them seriously, when an overnight passenger train derailed in northern India.

Rescue workers had to use cutting torches to pull people out of the mangled coaches after the incident near Kanpur.

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

The train derailed at around 3.10am yesterday, jolting awake passengers after they had settled in for the long trip.

Survivors and bodies were retrieved from mangled coaches that had fallen on to their sides.

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," said Mr Tewari from his hospital bed in the city of Kanpur. "I thought I was dead, and then I passed out."

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

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

The cause of the derailment was not immediately clear.

Accidents are relatively common on India's sprawling rail network, which is the world's third-largest, but lacks modern signalling and communication systems. Most accidents are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.

The impact of the derailment was so strong that one of the coaches landed on top of another, crushing the one below, said Brigadier Anurag Chibber, 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 that coach.

Irish Independent

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