Indian train disaster kills 39 as nine carriages derail
At least 39 people were killed and 50 injured when nine coaches of a passenger train derailed in eastern India in the latest disaster to hit the vast and accident-prone state railways.
The Hirakhand express train from Jagdalpur to Bhubaneswar derailed about 11.20pm near Kuneri station, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
"The rescue operation is almost over," said JP Mishra, a railway company spokesman.
"Our first priority is to take care of the injured passengers and provide proper treatment by shifting them to hospitals. We are also searching all the coaches to ensure that nobody remains stranded in them."
The reason for the derailment has not been determined, Mr Mishra said, adding that foul play had not been ruled out. The area in which the incident occurred is one where Maoist rebels typically operate.
Members of the disaster management team and locals rescued trapped passengers from windows and debris using phones to provide light.
"We will take strict action against whoever is behind this act," said Indian railways minister Suresh Prabhu. "We won't spare anyone responsible for this accident."
Nine coaches were derailed, of which three fell off the track, with most of the casualties and deaths occurring in the three sleeper-class compartments.
India's state railways, built during British colonial rule, have an appalling safety record after decades of underinvestment and a priority on keeping fares low.