Dozens feared dead as train runs over crowd in India

An angry crowd shout slogans as they sit by bodies of victims of a train accident in Amritsar India Friday Oct. 19 2018.                        Prabhjot Gill  AP

An angry crowd shout slogans as they sit by bodies of victims of a train accident in Amritsar India Friday Oct. 19 2018. Prabhjot Gill AP

According to media reports the organisers, members of the ruling Congress party, had gone into hiding. At least 58 people have been injured; 13 of them are critical.

"He informed the station master at Amritsar about the train hitting the crowd immediately after the accident", he said. "There was no notice given to the railways", he told reporters as he visited the site early on Saturday, surrounded by officials and police. Sections 113 and 114 of the Act allow the Railways to notify "any accident of any other description" - not just derailment and collision - involving "loss of any human life" as a Railway accident, the sources said.

If the driver had applied emergency breaks, there could have been a bigger tragedy, he said. The train was nearly coming to a halt when a very large crowd started attacking the train by throwing stones. "I have lost my world", an inconsolable Kumar said outside the Guru Nanak Hospital where most of the injured were taken.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has said he is rushing to Amritsar to personally supervise relief and rescue efforts. Have asked all govt & pvt hospitals to stay open to help in this hour of grief.

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An injured boy can be seen with a large bandage wrapped around his head, while another man is seen being comforted by relatives as he recovers in his hospital bed.

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Sidhu said when he learnt about the accident, he was shocked.

A witness said the train didn't even sound its whistle as it sped past the site, where hundreds were watching the burning of an effigy of demon Ravana during the Hindu festival of Dussehra. However, the service remains poorly funded and accidents are relatively common.

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The accident raises questions of negligence on behalf of the rail operator and the administration as to why the festival was held to so close to the rail line and why no barriers had been put up to stop people from getting onto the track.

Another train had narrowly missed the crowds two minutes earlier, officials said. He told the Amritsar official that the incident happened some 340 metres from an interlocked level crossing. "Trains travel in speed only". However it was also the responsibility of the railway staff that clears tracks and keeps an eye on obstacles, sources said. Navjot Singh Sidhu, her husband, rubbished the allegations.

"We hope that the normalcy will be restored in the area by Sunday evening as the number of protestors have come down since Saturday", a senior police officer said.

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