LUCKNOW, India – Rescue workers used gas cutters to pull out survivors after 14 coaches of a passenger train rolled off the track, killing at least 90 people in northern India early Sunday, police said.
The bodies were retrieved from the mangled coaches that fell on the side after the train derailed around 3:10 a.m., jolting awake passengers who had settled in for the overnight journey. More than 150 were injured as some coaches crumpled when they crashed into others, trapping hundreds of people inside.
“There are people trapped inside. We are being very careful in using the gas cutters,” said Daljeet Chaudhary, a director general of police. He said the toll was likely to rise as rescue workers were yet to gain access to some of the worst damaged coaches.
The derailment occurred near Pukhrayan, a village near the industrial city of Kanpur.
Rescuers used gas cutters to open the derailed coaches to reach those trapped inside, while cranes were deployed to lift the coaches from the tracks.
Medical teams were providing first aid near the site while the more seriously injured were moved to hospitals in Kanpur, Chaudhary said. At least two dozen suffered serious injuries, he said.
Passenger Satish Kumar said that the train was traveling at normal speed when it stopped suddenly.
“It restarted, and then we heard a crash. When we came out of the train, we saw a few coaches had derailed,” said Kumar, whose coach remained standing on the track.
It was not immediately clear was caused the coaches to derail.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his concern over the derailment.
“Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families,” Modi posted on his Twitter account.
Kanpur is a major railway junction and hundreds of trains pass through it every day. Several trains using the line have been diverted to other routes, Anil Saxena, spokesman for Indian Railways, said in New Delhi.
Accidents are relatively common on India’s sprawling rail network, which is one of the world’s largest but lacks modern signaling and communication systems. Most crashes are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.
Trains are the popular mode of transport for millions of Indians and around 23 million passengers use India’s vast railway network every day.
The worst train accident occurred in 1981 near Saharsa Bihar when a passenger train fell into the Baghmati River, killing nearly 800 people. Several other major train crashes have claimed hundreds of lives each since then.