At Least 115 Killed In Northern India Train Derailment

November 20, 2016

In the early hours of Sunday morning, a passenger train veered off track in northern India, killing at least 115 people, police say. More than 150 additional travelers are injured.

Fourteen coaches of the train, traveling from the northeastern city of Patna to the central city of Indore, derailed in the village of Pukhrayan, near the industrial city of Kanpur, in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Several passengers were sleeping at the time of the crash, which occurred around 3:10 a.m.

Railway officials and medical teams are attending to the scene, using gas cutters and cranes to pull out hundreds of trapped survivors after coaches crumpled on impact, reports the Associated Press. National Disaster Response Force workers are also being deployed.

“It is a delicate situation,” said Daljeet Chaudhary, a director general of police, reports broadcaster NDTV.

Local media are reporting a higher death toll, which has been rising as rescue workers gain more access to the mangled coaches.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his grief for the victims.

The cause of the derailment remains unknown. As NPR’s Julie McCarthy reports from New Dehli, the Transport Ministry has ordered a full investigation into the incident, and has announced compensation for relatives of those who have died.

The Transport Minister, Suresh Prabhu, tweeted “the strictest possible action will be taken against those who could be responsible.”

Crashes are relatively common on India’s rail network, the world’s fourth largest. While it’s trains shuttle more than 20 million passengers daily, the state-owned Indian Railways is fitted with outdated safety, signaling and communication technology.

An accident involving two trains in Madhya Pradesh in August last year left 24 dead, which officials blamed on flash floods.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.