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More than 280 dead and 900 injured after passenger trains derail in India, officials say

Rescuers were attempting to free people feared trapped in derailed coaches, officials said.

More than 280 people were killed and 900 injured in an passenger train crash in eastern India on Friday, prompting a vast rescue operation that continued into Saturday morning, officials said.

 

The bodies of at least 288 people were recovered from the wreckage overnight, according to Sudhanshu Sarangi, director of the fire department in the state of Odisha. Hundreds are still being treated in local hospitals.

 

The accident, one of the most deadly train crashes in India for decades, took place in Balasore district, about 137 miles southwest of Kolkata, said P.K. Jena, the state’s top administrative official. An investigation into the cause of the crash is already underway.

About 1,200 rescue workers with 115 ambulances, 50 buses and 45 mobile health units responded, officials said.

 

Rescuers were cutting through the destroyed rail cars to find people who may still be trapped, but it is unlikely they would still be alive, Sarangi said.

 

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. The first train collided with 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. “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.

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