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News / Nation & World

2 trains derail in India; 200-plus dead

900 people injured; cause of disaster under investigation

By ASHOK SHARMA, Associated Press
Published: June 2, 2023, 6:46pm

NEW DELHI — Two passenger trains derailed Friday in India, killing more than 200 people and trapping hundreds of others inside more than a dozen damaged rail cars, officials said.

The accident that happened about 137 miles southwest of Kolkata created a chaotic scene of twisted wreckage and desperate rescuers as teams tried to free passengers and recover bodies. The cause was under investigation.

About 900 people were injured in the accident, Odisha state’s top bureaucrat, P.K. Jena, said in a tweet.

Ten to 12 coaches of one train derailed, and debris from some of the mangled coaches fell onto a nearby track, said Amitabh Sharma, a railroad ministry spokesperson.

The debris was hit by another passenger train coming from the opposite direction, and up to three coaches of the second train also derailed, Sharma said.

The Press Trust reported that a third train carrying freight was also involved, but there was no immediate confirmation from railroad authorities. The Press Trust report said some of the derailed passenger coaches hit cars from the freight train.

The death toll rose steadily throughout the night. As dawn approached, the top bureaucrat in the eastern state of Odisha announced that at least 207 were dead.

In the aftermath, television images showed rescuers climbing atop the wreckage to break open doors and windows and using cutting torches to free survivors.

Officials said 1,200 rescuers worked with 115 ambulances, 50 buses and 45 mobile health units through the night at the accident site.

Villagers said they rushed to the site to evacuate people after hearing a loud sound created by the train coaches going off the tracks.

“The local people really went out on a limb to help us. They not only helped in pulling out people, but retrieved our luggage and got us water,” PTI cited Rupam Banerjee, a survivor, as saying.

Passenger Vandana Kaleda told the New Delhi Television news channel that she “found people falling on each other” as her coach shook violently and veered off the tracks.

Another survivor said he was sleeping when the impact woke him up. He said he saw other passengers with broken limbs and disfigured faces.

The Press Trust said the derailed Coromandel Express was traveling from Howrah in West Bengal state to Chennai, the capital of southern Tamil Nadu state.

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