Dozens killed as speeding train runs over crowd watching fireworks
Prabhjot Gill / AP
NEW DELHI — A speeding train ran over a crowd watching fireworks during a religious festival in northern India on Friday, killing at least 50 people, a Congress party leader said. The victims crowded the rail track on the outskirts of Amritsar, a city in Punjab state.
They didn’t see the train coming, which failed to stop after the accident, said the politician, Pratap Singh Bajwa.
Amrinder Singh, the state’s top elected official, told reporters that he had reports of 50 to 60 people dead. Thirty bodies had been removed from the site by Friday evening as relief work was being hampered by nightfall.
An eyewitness said the train didn’t even whistle as it sped past the site, where hundreds were busy watching the burning of an effigy of demon Ravana during the Hindu festival of Dussehra.
“Why did authorities allow the fireworks display so close to the railroad track,'” he asked on TV. He told the Republic television channel that he lost two brothers.
Police took several injured to nearby hospitals.
Following the accident, a large number of people rushed to the site and shouted at railway officials for not taking precautions in view of the festival.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reacted to the incident on Twitter.
While accidents are relatively common on India’s sprawling rail network, Friday’s was among the deadliest in recent years.
In 2016, 146 people were killed when a train slid off railroad tracks in eastern India.
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