Published: Sun, October 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

'At least 50' dead as train ploughs through festival crowd in India

'At least 50' dead as train ploughs through festival crowd in India

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday demanded compensation of Rs 1 crore per person and government jobs for the families of those killed in the tragic train accident here.

At least 50 people were killed Friday after a train plowed into revellers gathered to watch a Hindu festival in India's northern Amritsar city, police said.

The body of a victim of Friday's deadly train accident lies on the railway covered in a cloth.

The victims crowded the rail track on the outskirts of Amritsar, a city in Punjab state.

Most "of those killed are these poor workers", Yadav said, adding that some earned as little as 7,000 rupees ($95) per month.

Sources said that the driver claimed that he was given green signal and all clear and had no idea that hundreds of people were standing on the tracks when the train crossed the area.

Amid questions being raised in some quarters about why the train did not stop despite such a large crowd being there, the official said, "There was so much smoke that the driver was unable to see anything and he was also negotiating a curve". Meanwhile, the Amritsar police said though they had given a "no objection" certificate for the Dussehra celebrations, the organisers did not take permission from the municipal corporation and the pollution department.

Asked about opposition attack on former MLA Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was the chief guest at the Dussehra function, Sinha said nobody should do politics on this issue. "Then a speeding train arrived and within seconds tragedy struck".

Last year, Indian officials reportedly tallied almost 600 rail accidents in the preceding five years, around half of which were due to derailments.

He said that the train was running at its assigned speed and initial reports suggest that the driver applied brakes and the train slowed down.

At least 50 injured people were admitted to hospital. The injured were immediately taken to the civil hospitals near the area. Earlier in the day, the Dussehra committee released a letter highlighting that they had written to the police seeking security arrangements for Dussehra celebrations at Dhobi Ghat, Golden Avenue in Amritsar.

"We weren't kept in the loop and we provided no permission for the event", he said. He said those responsible for the tragedy must be handed exemplary punishment.

Acting on the Chief Minister's directives, Rehabilitation Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Health Minister Brahm Mohindra have already rushed to Amritsar to supervise the rescue and relief operations.

As the effigy was lit and the fireworks started, a section of the crowd started retreating towards the railway while observing the event.

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