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Death toll rises to 120 in horror Indian train crash

Most of the passengers were asleep at the time of the accident. At least 150 more have been injured.

India Train Derails The scene of the crash Source: Rajesh Kumar Singh

Updated 6pm

EMERGENCY WORKERS ARE working to find any more survivors in the mangled wreckage of an Indian express train that derailed overnight, killing at least 120 people, in the worst disaster to hit the country’s ageing rail network in years.

Many were sleeping when 14 carriages leapt from the tracks in a remote area of Uttar Pradesh state, and shocked passengers recalled being jolted out of their slumber by a violent thud.

“I woke up suddenly around 3.10am and felt a tremor. The train came to a screeching halt,” survivor Yaqoob Ahmed told the Hindustan Times newspaper from a hospital in the nearby city of Kanpur.

“All of a sudden, I was crushed under a crowd of people… everyone was screaming for help.”

Rescue workers are searching for survivors believed still trapped inside the badly mangled coaches of the Patna-Indore express after the crash near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh state.

Police said 120 people had been killed and at least 200 others were undergoing treatment in nearby hospitals, which were placed on high alert after the early morning disaster.

Hundreds of army and police have been deployed at the scene, where rescue workers used gas-powered metal cutters to slice through severely mangled coaches to try to get to survivors.

“We have been able to pull out 24 people, out of which five were found to be alive,” said a Brigadier Chhibbar, who is leading the army’s rescue operations.

We will carry on day and night, till there is any inkling of even a single person being pulled alive.

All local hospitals have been placed on alert and more than 30 ambulances have been deployed.

India Train Derails Rescuers working at the scene Source: Rajesh Kumar Singh

India Train Derails Source: Rajesh Kumar Singh

TV footage showed rescue workers using gas cutters and other equipment to slice through severely mangled coaches strewn with suitcases and other luggage.

Witnesses spoke of being woken by a huge bang and being thrown around.

“We woke up to a great thud this morning. It was pitch dark and the noise was deafening,” a passenger told reporters as he waited with his family at the scene.

I am lucky to be alive and safe. But it was a near-death experience for us.

‘Shaken to core’

Nitika Trivedi, a student who boarded the train with her family from the eastern city of Patna, said images of the bodies of her fellow passengers would long haunt her.

I had never seen something like this in my life before. I am shaken to the core.

Railway officials said special trains had been pressed into service for stranded travellers.

“We are also trying to clear the tracks and complete the restoration work as quickly as possible,” Vijay Kumar, a spokesman for north-central railways, told AFP.

National Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said in a tweet the government would investigate what caused the derailment and announced compensation for the victims.

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India’s railway network, one of the world’s largest, is still the main form of long-distance travel in the vast country, but it is poorly funded and deadly accidents occur relatively frequently.

In 2014 an express train ploughed into a stationary freight train, also in Uttar Pradesh, killing 26 people.

And last year 27 people died after two trains derailed in Madhya Pradesh state during heavy rain.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “anguished beyond words” by the loss of life in the latest accident.

In 2012 a government report said almost 15,000 people were killed every year on India’s railways, describing the deaths as an annual “massacre”.

Modi’s government has pledged to invest $137 billion over five years to modernise the crumbling railways, making them safer, faster and more efficient.

© – AFP, 2016

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