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

Railway Minister condoles loss of lives in Amritsar train accident

Railway Minister condoles loss of lives in Amritsar train accident

Organizers erected a huge LED screen for the hundreds of people who gathered to watch the burning of the effigies of Ravana and other demons, said Yadav, who lives just a kilometer (half a mile) from the disaster site.

According to a Northern Railway spokesperson, the incident occurred at gate number 27 between Amritsar and Manawala, when a DMU (train number 74943) was crossing through the closed gate. "We extended all possible help to shift the injured people to different hospitals and assisted the administration in the rescue operation", he said.

Bikram Singh Majitha, a leader of the regional Akali Dal party, said the effigy burning usually happens at sunset, not later. Amritsar's main hospital did not have enough space in its morgue, and some corpses were laid outside.

One account said two trains arrived from the opposite direction at the same time giving little opportunity to people to escape.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted his condolences. Railways also said that no action will be taken against the driver of the train who had managed to slow down the train to around 68 kmph from the speed of 91kmph at which he was assigned to run.

Authorities moved the protestors off the tracks and brought in reinforcements to control the crowd.

Protesters clash with police at Amritsar train accident site
However it was also the responsibility of the railway staff that clears tracks and keeps an eye on obstacles, sources said. A video clip on social media appeared to indicate that those on the dais could see people standing on the railway tracks.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Saturday that a magisterial probe into the Amritsar train tragedy in which 59 people watching Dusshera effigy burning were crushed to death by a train will reveal if mandatory permissions for holding the function were given.

The Railways maintain that they are not responsible for the tragedy, citing people were trespassing on the tracks. "I pray for the injured to recover quickly", the minister said. "We gave permission for a certain event in a certain area, now obviously there is no permission to be on the tracks or anything".

Responding to the DCP, ASI Daljit Singh, SHO, Mohkampura, said that almost 20,000 visitors may throng the venue and the organisers will abide by the Supreme Court and Punjab and Haryana High Court directions relating to traffic management and noise pollution.

Punjab Chief Minister and Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu outside the Guru Nanak Hospital in Amritsar. When the first train crossed people got off the tracks.

Although accidents are relatively common on India's sprawling rail network, this was among the country's deadliest in recent years.

Asked why the Chief Minister reached Amritsar after 16 hours of the tragedy, he said, "I was supposed to go to Tel Aviv". In April, 13 children were killed when a train hit their school bus. In November 2016, the Patna-Indore express derailed in Uttar Pradesh state in the middle of the night, killing 139 people.

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