New Delhi – Two passenger trains derailed in India on Friday, killing more than 200 people and trapping hundreds in more than a dozen damaged rail cars, officials said.
Pradeep Jena, the top bureaucrat in the eastern state of Orissa, announced the death toll in a tweet.
Fire Chief Sudhansh Sarangi told the India Press Trust that more than 800 people were injured. He said the death toll could rise further.
Officials said the accident occurred about 220 kilometers (137 miles) southwest of Kolkata. The cause was under investigation.
Railways ministry spokesman Amitabh Sharma said 10 to 12 carriages of one train derailed and debris from some of the wrecked carriages fell onto nearby tracks.
Sharma said another passenger train coming from the opposite direction hit the rubble and derailed up to three carriages of a second train.
The Press Trust reported that a third train carrying freight was also involved, but there was no immediate confirmation from railway officials. The Press Trust reported that some of the derailed carriages collided with carriages of a freight train.
In the aftermath, television footage showed rescue workers climbing onto the wreckage, prying open doors and windows, and using cutting torches to free survivors.
Passenger Vandana Khaleda told the New Delhi TV news channel, “I found people falling over each other” when the bus shook violently and veered off the tracks. She said she was lucky to survive.
Another survivor, who did not give his name, said he was asleep when the shock woke him up. He said he saw other passengers with broken limbs and scars on his face.
At least 50 people were killed, said Dattatreya Bawsaheb Shinde, head of administration in Balasore district. The Press Trust reported at least 70 fatalities.
Nearly 500 police officers, ambulances and 75 buses of rescue workers were dispatched to the scene, said Pradeep Jena, Orissa’s top official.
Rescuers were trying to free 200 people who were feared trapped in the wreckage, Shinde said.
The derailed Coromandel Express was heading from Howrah in West Bengal to Chennai, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the Press Trust said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his thoughts were with the bereaved family.
Modi tweeted, “May the injured recover quickly,” and said he had spoken to the railways minister and that “all assistance” was being provided.
Despite government efforts to improve rail safety, India’s rail network, the world’s largest rail network under a single administration, still experiences hundreds of accidents each year.
In August 1995, two trains collided near New Delhi, killing 358 people in the worst train accident in India’s history.
Most railway accidents are caused by human error or outdated signaling equipment.
Over 12 million people travel across India every day on 14,000 trains and 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) of track.
https://abc7ny.com/india-train-derailment-accident-death-toll/13335166/ Indian Train Accident: Passenger Train Derails In India, Over 200 Dead, Many Trapped