India train disaster families protest amid anger over safety

Dozens were feared dead after a train ran over a crowd in Amritsar northern India

Dozens were feared dead after a train ran over a crowd in Amritsar northern India

One official said the local response was on par with a "war footing" as emergency workers tended to the dead and injured. The railway crossing gates were closed and the crossing was manned. While speaking to the media outside the Civil Hospital, as reported by ANI, Sidhu said that the matter should not be politicised and that it was an accident and was not intentional on anyone's part. He said the injured were being transported to the hospital, adding, "The government is going to bear the full cost of this".

Police said it was "freak accident" as people did not hear the train approaching amid the din of festivities and fireworks.

R.C. Yadav, former chairman of Punjab state's Workers Welfare Board, said that numerous 60 killed and dozens injured when a speeding train ran over a crowd celebrating the Hindu festival of Dussehra on Friday night had left their families in neighboring states to work in factories and shops in Punjab. About 500 protesters, mostly young men, had blocked the rail tracks at the accident site and had raised slogans against the administration and the railways.

The body of a victim of Friday's train accident is carried in for cremation in Amritsar, India, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018.

Bikram Singh Majitha, a leader of the regional Akali Dal party, said the effigy burning usually happens at sunset, not later. "The incident was not a railways' fault".

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There are fears that the death toll will rise further. "The (Dussehra) event took place at a place adjoining the railway land in private property", he said.

The Press Trust of India news agency said two trains arrived from opposite directions on separate tracks, giving little opportunity for people to escape.

Amarinder Singh, Punjab chief minister, said he was rushing to Amritsar to supervise relief and rescue operations.

The event was not organised for the first time.

"My government will give Rs. 5 lakh to kin of each deceased and free treatment to injured in government and private hospitals", he tweeted.

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The Northern Railway CPRO said that due to some incident, people started running towards gate No. 27 between Amritsar and Manawala.

As a result of the accident, many trains were cancelled and other diverted. Chairman of the Railway Board Ashwani Lohani said in a statement that the accident occurred at a midsection between the Amritsar and Manawala stations and not at a level crossing. In November 2016, the Patna-Indore express derailed in Uttar Pradesh state in the middle of the night, killing 139 people. Police sources said that the organisers had gone underground.

A large number of people live in the area with homes on both sides of the railroad track, she said.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal returned early from a trip to the United States to go to Amritsar on Saturday.

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