Published: Sat, October 20, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Dozens feared dead as train runs over crowd in India

Dozens feared dead as train runs over crowd in India

"The toll can rise", State police chief Suresh Arora told Reuters, adding emergency officials were still trying to ascertain the extent of the disaster on the outskirts of Amritsar in Punjab state.

Eyewitnesses said the crowd spilled onto the tracks when a Ravana effigy was set ablaze and crackers started exploding. One official said the local response was on par with a "war footing" as emergency workers tended to the dead and injured. While some trains are being diverted, many are stationed near Jalandhar, he said. Two trains arrived from the opposite direction at the same time giving the people standing on the tracks little time to escape, PTI reported, quoting officials. Local reports say that the crowd did not hear the sound of the train coming due to firecrackers that were bursting during the celebrations.

The preliminary report suggests the incident took place following a stampede during Dussehra celebrations, Northern Railways PRO told CNN News18.

Several feared dead on Friday in a train mishap in Choura Bazar near Amritsar.

Demanding tough action against the administrative and railway authorities responsible for the incident, the AAP said it was a grave mistake to allow Dussehra festivities at such an unsafe place.

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"We're not kept in the loop and we provided no permission for the event. When he sees the gates are closed and the signal is down, he will act accordingly because he is confident that the track is OK", Mehrotra said. He said those responsible for the tragedy must be handed exemplary punishment. The role of the civil administration too could be under scrutiny because securing and barricading the area is its responsibility.

India is home to hundreds of railway crossings that are unmanned and particularly accident prone, with motorists often ignoring oncoming train warnings.

"May God give strength to the bereaved and injured", Goyal tweeted. Railways is proving all possible assistance at the site. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who is in the U.S., is returning back home.

Locals are appalled at the negligence of both organisers and the state for the absence of any safety measures for an event right next to railway tracks.

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