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Train accident kills at least 40 in northern India

Twenty Five Dead in Gorakhdham Express Train Accident in Uttar Pradesh
LUCKNOW, India (AP) - An express train plowed into a parked freight train in northern India on Monday, killing at least 40 people and reducing cars to heaps of torn and twisted metal, officials said.

The Gorakhpur Express passenger train was traveling at high speed and slammed on its brakes in an attempt to stop, but hit the train sitting on the tracks near a railway station in Uttar Pradesh state, district magistrate Bharat Lal said.

Six of the cars on the express train derailed, with one car with unreserved seating taking the brunt of the impact and accounting for most of the 40 deaths so far counted, senior police officer Amrendra Sainger said.

"It has been reduced to a mangled iron mesh," he said. "We do not know how many people were there." While the car seats 72, such trains are often filled beyond capacity.

Authorities were searching for the station master, who disappeared after the accident in Sant Kabir Nagar, about 220 kilometers (140 miles) southeast of the state capital, Lucknow. But authorities said it was too early to say what had gone wrong and were investigating everything from mechanical failure to human error.

Villagers were the first to reach the scene after the accident about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the nearest road. Indian TV broadcast images of them assisting the injured amid piles of strewn luggage.

"I was working in the field when I heard the whistle of the engine, and suddenly I heard the sound of a crash. It was a terrible sound . it still reverberates in my ears," villager Ram Chander Chaudhry told news channel Samachar Plus. "Within minutes I reached there and saw the train had been derailed."

Most of the victims were poor farm workers returning to their homes from the neighboring state of Haryana, local police official Zameer Ahmad said. The train departed from Haryana's Hissar town and was just 46 kilometers (29 miles) from its destination of Gorakhpur when the accident happened.

Because of the remote location, "it was difficult to start rescue operations immediately," Ahmad said. "By the time police and rail officials reached the spot, villagers and other passengers had moved the injured away."

Rescuers worked to free people trapped under toppled cars and debris. The express train's driver died later Monday from serious injuries, while the assistant driver was in critical condition, railway official Alok Kumar said.

Trains were diverted to other tracks to avoid the wreckage.

Narendra Modi, who was sworn in later Monday as India's new prime minister, expressed condolences to the families of the dead in a message on Twitter. "Prayers with the injured," he said.

Accidents are common on India's railroad network, one of the world's largest with 20 million people riding daily on about 11,000 passenger trains. Most accidents are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.

Earlier this month, a train crashed into a jeep at an unmanned railroad crossing in Uttar Pradesh, killing 13 members of a wedding party. Four days earlier, a passenger train derailed, killing at least 19 people just south of Mumbai. Another train derailment last month left dozens injured in the northeast state of Assam.

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jdjsmit May 26 2014 at 1:29 PM

900 million more

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1 reply
Dave jdjsmit May 26 2014 at 5:44 PM

Current Population of India in 2014 is estimated to be 1.27 billion

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SCUL8RSB May 26 2014 at 3:14 PM

The wrong people are in charge.

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Dave May 26 2014 at 5:43 PM

Have you ever seen a train traveling in India? The people are packed in like sardines, hanging on the sides and on the roof. You would think that is a safety issue. Condolences to the victims and their families.

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Steve May 26 2014 at 4:20 PM

Same as airplanes, sit in the back!

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redroad9 May 26 2014 at 5:37 PM

Few facts in what I read. Was there a signal system? Was there only one person in the cab of the passenger train. It's been 22 years since we had cabooses on our freight trains. They were there for a reason. They should be one on ever freight train and should be more than one person in the cab of ever moving train.

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1 reply
papcollins redroad9 May 26 2014 at 7:19 PM

One or two more people would have been killed if there had been a caboose. A flagman from a caboose can't go far enough behind to stop a speeding train coming om his track.

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cigarpal May 26 2014 at 7:38 PM

Ever see that vid of the guy who grabs the hot wire on the electric train in India and fry's himself?

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agmassey May 26 2014 at 10:52 PM

The US has a good system and has very few accidents especially considered the millions of miles traveled. If you ever can get a tour of a BN dispatch location. Each dispatcher has their total area of track on screen and can see where every train is at all times. Plus, they are in constant contact with the trains in their area. Accidents do happen but per million miles travelled it is a very few. This is one thing we do right...I am not counting state or federal train systems for passengers. That is a different story.

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TheSapPhire007 May 27 2014 at 4:53 AM

Welcome Mr.Modi, The new prime Minister of India.
These are the not good signs for a PM and country, So many accidents before he take outh, really is not good signs for India, seems he will bring the worst to this country he is having bad luck for a common Indian man.

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