Published: Sun, October 21, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Dozens feared dead as train runs over crowd in India

Dozens feared dead as train runs over crowd in India

The train left behind dismembered bodies and wailing people.

A witness said the train did not sound its whistle as it sped past the site, where hundreds were watching the burning of an effigy of demon Ravana during the Hindu festival of Dussehra.

Northern Railways spokesperson Deepak Kumar said in a statement that the event was organised in an area which does not belong to the railways.

Apart from cancelling 27 trains, the railways also diverted many others to Tarn Taran and Beas to continue their onward journeys while others were short terminated at Jalandhar, railway officials said.

"Therefore granting permission from the Railway's does not arise", he added.

The railways has maintained that it was not at fault because it had no intimation about the Dussehra event. Railway officials said no permission was sought from them either.

Clothes were strewn and there was blood around the narrow railway lane on the outskirts of Amritsar where the accident occurred. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said the Railways is conducting immediate relief and rescue operations.

The station master should have been informed and he should have alerted the loco-pilots.

Spectators were watching the effigy burn, and a fireworks display, when many started moving towards the railway tracks a short distance away.

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Doctors at the Civil Hospital said that the death toll could rise as some of the injured were critical. Many killed were migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

A state of mourning was declared for Saturday in Punjab, a state bordering Pakistan. Mr Goyal, who is in the USA, also said he is returning to India.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he had ordered an investigation into who was responsible for the accident.

The Chief Minister would visit the accident spot on Saturday later. He also announced that each of the victims' families would receive monetary compensation of 500,000 rupees ($6,800, €5,900).

An eyewitness alleged the train driver didn't blow the horn, while another woman cried inconsolably as she had lost her son. "We had security for the whole city including the main venue and the function venue", SS Shrivastava, Commissioner of Police, Amritsar was quoted as saying by ANI. In his statement, the driver said that he applied the emergency brakes while continuously blowing the horn yet some people came under the train.

Earlier today, Sidhu said that the train running over Dussehra revellers in Amritsar was an accident and that nobody had done it intentionally.

According to media reports the organisers, members of the ruling Congress party, had gone into hiding.

Following the accident, people rushed to the site and shouted at railway officials for not taking precautions.

"When I talked to my wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu on Friday, she was in a hospital", he said.

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