Themorningbellbd.com desk, November 21: Rescuers are combing through mangled wreckage after a train derailed in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state.
The death toll could rise further as rescuers continue work, and with many of the injured in critical conditions.
The cause of the crash is not known, although reports said a fractured rail could be to blame.
Train accidents are fairly common in India, where much of the rail infrastructure and rolling stock is out of date.
Early on Monday the railway ministry published a list of names of injured passengers. Out of the 180 listed, 56 were said to be “grievously injured”.
Hundreds are taking part in the rescue operation, using machines to cut through the mangled metal or using their bare hands to remove the debris, as police hold back curious onlookers from nearby villages.
Two carriages are completely smashed up beyond recognition. Several other carriages are hanging off the tracks precariously.
Personal effects of passengers – bags, clothes, water bottles – are strewn all over the place. I can see a woman’s red dress hanging off the roof of a carriage.
Officials are saying that those still trapped in the wreckage are probably dead by now.
There are two giant cranes trying to remove carriages that have already been cleared of bodies, but it’s proving difficult because they’re badly damaged. I saw one carriage that was being lifted up suddenly fall to the ground – the crane could not handle it properly.
The derailment had the strongest impact on the first two carriages of the train, which crashed into each other and overturned. Most of the victims were located in these carriages.
According to the Indian Express the carriages were outdated. The report said the government had promised earlier this year to upgrade all trains.
The train may have also been carrying far more passengers that it was supposed to, reports said.
Although the official number of passengers was about 1,200, the Times of India said as many as another 500 could have been on the train without tickets, citing unnamed railway officials as sources.
Survivors, most of whom were sleeping at the time of the crash, described horrific scenes.
“I woke up suddenly around 3.10am and felt a tremor. The train came to a screeching halt. All of a sudden, I was crushed under a crowd of people… everyone was screaming for help,” survivor Yaqoob Ahmed told the Hindustan Times.
“There was a loud sound like an earthquake. I fell from my berth and a lot of luggage fell over me,” another passenger named Ramchandra Tewari was quoted by AP as saying. “I thought I was dead, and then I passed out.”
“I’m certain that it’s my brother’s body but it’s not been removed yet,” he told the BBC.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.
“Prayers with those injured in the tragic train accident.”
Mr Modi also promised compensation to the victims’ relatives and injured passengers, and said he had spoken to Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu.
On his own Twitter account, Mr Prabhu warned that “strictest possible action will be taken against those who could be responsible for accident”.