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100 feared dead in Indian rail tragedy

Sixteen of the 18 cars on the New Delhi-bound train derailed.
Sixteen of the 18 cars on the New Delhi-bound train derailed.  


From Suhasini Haidar
CNN

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- As many as 100 people are feared dead after a passenger train derailed in a remote region of northeastern India sending at least one car plunging into a river.

Three other cars from the Kolkata-to-New Delhi Rajdhani Express were left hanging precariously above the water.

The cause of the incident is being investigated, with authorities not yet ruling out sabotage.

Railway officials say up to 100 people may have died in the accident with some 54 bodies reported recovered from the river late Tuesday. The train was carrying an estimated 500 passengers.

In all, 16 of the 18 cars in the train derailed at 10:40 p.m. local time Monday (1710 GMT) as it was crossing the Dhawa River, near Rafiganj in the eastern state of Bihar.

The accident sent one car containing at least 64 people plunging into the river where it lay partially submerged in knee-deep water.

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At least 100 are feared dead after a passenger train derailed in a remote region of northeastern India. CNN's Suhasini Haidar reports (September 10)

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Several-hundred rescue workers were scouring the waters for survivors and attempting to remove passengers trapped in the dangling cars.

Many passengers had fallen out of the cars as they hung above the river, said Anil Saxena, a spokesman for the railway.

Army called in

Authorities said 125 people were rescued from the water and the train, and at least 65 were taken to Aurangabad Civil Hospital, Saxena said.

One official said he expected the death told to be high, but would not estimate a final number.

Railway Minister Nitish Kumar arrived at the scene early Tuesday to coordinate recovery efforts.

Dozens of relatives of those traveling aboard the train have gone to New Delhi and Kolkata stations desperate for news.

Relatives have gathered at New Delhi and Kolkata stations hoping for news
Relatives have gathered at New Delhi and Kolkata stations hoping for news  

Members of the Indian army have been called in to assist rescue workers and helicopters and cranes are on their way to the area.

Meanwhile officials have set up special trains to carry relatives and friends from New Delhi and Kolkata to the scene of the accident.

In all more than 500 people were on board the train at the time of the crash. Of them 325 were unhurt or received only minor injuries.

The first train carrying survivors back to Kolkata is expected to arrive in the city late Tuesday evening.

With more rescue workers traveling to the scene officials say it is still too early to say what caused the accident, although one junior railway minister has said the possibility of sabotage cannot be ruled out.

However, a rail official on the crash scene said it was more likely that monsoon rains had washed away an embankment, causing the wreck.

The worst rail accident in Indian history took place on June 6, 1981, also in Bihar state.

Then more than 800 people died when a crowded express train was blown off the tracks by a cyclone and plunged into a river.



 
 
 
 


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