AT LEAST 120 people have been killed with more than 200 injured following the derailment of an express train in Uttar Pradesh state, northern India.
Hundreds were left trapped in the wreckage after 14 carriages of the train, which was travelling between Patna and Indore, came off the tracks close to the village of Purwa, around 65 km from the city of Kanpur.
The accident happened at around 3am, when most of those aboard were sleeping, with the majority of the victims occupying two heavily-damaged carriages near the engine, which overturned as it derailed.
Rescuers were still sifting the wreckage late in the afternoon on Sunday, November 20, with Kanpur police inspector, Zaki Ahmad, telling the Agence France-Presse news agency that “the death toll has reached 120. At least 200 others are injured.”
Pratap Rai, a senior railway official, added: “We are using every tactic to save lives, but it’s very difficult to cut the metal carriages.”
Rescue attempts are thought to have been complicated by the rural location of the accident, with medical trains from Jhansi city attending the scene and cranes being used to pull open the remains of the carriages.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.
Rail accidents are not uncommon on India’s aging rail network, the fourth largest in the world and used by 20 million each day.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, more than 25,000 people are killed in train accidents on an annual basis.
Modi’s government announced €130 billion of investments over the next five years to improve and update the country’s railways.