At least 32 people were killed and more than 55 others injured after a passenger train derailed in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh late Saturday night, a senior railway official said Sunday.
“The mishap happened in the state’s Vizianagaram district around 11:30 p.m. local time (1800 GMT) when eight coaches and the engine of the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Express went off tracks near the border of the neighboring eastern state of Odisha,” he said on condition of anonymity.
While 32 bodies had been pulled out of the derailed coaches, those injured have been admitted to nearby hospitals where the condition of some were said to be serious, the official said, adding that rescuers were still scouting the coaches to look for anyone trapped inside.
The train was going from Jagdalpur in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh to Odisha capital of Bhubaneswar when the incident took place.
Local TV channels showed footage of the twisted coaches and reported that train services in the region have been affected due to the mishap.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the tragedy as “saddening.”
“The Railway Ministry is monitoring the situation very closely and is working to ensure quick rescue and relief operations,” he tweeted.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced a compensation of 2 lakh rupees (4,000 U.S. dollars) each for the families of those killed and 50,000 rupees (1,000 U.S. dollars) for those who sustained injuries, the railway official said.
“A probe has been ordered into the incident to ascertain the exact cause of the derailment. We have not ruled out sabotage,” he added.
Indian Railways is one of the world’s largest train networks, criss-crossing the country from north to south, and carrying 22 million passengers daily. But train accidents are fairly common in India, where much of the railway equipment is out of date.
In November last year, over 140 people were killed when a passenger train derailed in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. In March 2015, another accident in the same state killed 39 people and injured 150.
The Indian government in 2015 announced investments of 137 billion U.S. dollars over five years to modernise and expand the railways. Enditem