AMRITSAR, India (Reuters) – A high-speed commuter train hit a crowd on rails in northern India on Friday, killing at least 50 people, Punjab State and Witness police said.
People gather on October 19, 2018 at the Amunitsar, India, casualty point in this still image from the Reuters TV video. ANI News via REUTERS
"People were sitting on and off the tracks on the outskirts of Amritsar, watching the burning of portraits as part of the Dussehra festival when a commuter train passed overhead," a police officer told Reuters.
At least 60 people were hospitalized with injuries, the police officer in the control room said after what he called a "freak accident," as people did not hear the train in the midst of festivals and fireworks.
The ANI news agency reported that a local witness said that the train that drove over people was traveling at high speed.
Amarinder Singh, chief of Punjab, said he hurried to Amritsar to monitor relief and rescue operations.
"We also arranged an investigation into why this incident occurred," Singh told ANI, adding that there are still conflicting reports on the death rate.
A witness told Times Now that relatives of some of the deceased took dead bodies of their own and there were no proper bailouts at the moment.
Everywhere corpses of victims were scattered and local television stations showed distraught and angry people, including a crying mother who was just losing a child in the tragedy.
"Many students were gathered here and we can see so many unknown bodies lying around and there's not even enough light here," one local person told a local broadcaster.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was very affected by the train accident.
"The tragedy is heartbreaking," he tweeted. "My deepest condolences go to the families of those who have lost their loved ones, and I pray that the wounded will recover quickly, and I urge the officials to provide immediate assistance as needed."
India's state railways, mostly during After decades of underinvestment in rail safety infrastructure, the colonial rule has created a shocking security record, with the priority being to keep air fares low, the 23 million passengers who use the network daily.
A derailment in August 201
coverage by Munish Sharma, Sudarshan Varadhan, Amit Ganguly and Sanjeev Miglani; Letter from Euan Rocha; Editing by Mark Heinrich