A speeding train ran over a crowd watching fireworks during a religious festival in India today, killing at least 60 people.
Hundreds of people were watching the burning of an effigy of demon Ravana during the Hindu festival of Dussehra in northern Punjab state when the train struck.
The commuter train hit the crowd standing and sitting on the railway line to watch a fireworks show during evening celebrations, police and eyewitnesses said.
Pratap Singh Bajwa said the victims crowded the rail track on the outskirts of Amritsar, a city in Punjab state.
He said they did not see the train, which failed to stop after the accident.
Relatives and locals look at bodies of the victims of the train accident as the desperate search for survivors continued
A crowd gathers at the site of a train accident in Amritsar, India, where a speeding train ran over a crowd in northern India leaving at least 60 people dead
Police men carry the dead body of a man after at least 60 revellers were mowed down by the speeding train
The train was coming from Jalandhar to Amritsar and spectators reportedly could not hear the horn of the train being sounded due to the exploding crackers.
Following the accident, a large number of villagers rushed to the site and condemned railroad authorities for not taking precautions in view of the festival.
Videos posted on social media showed the fireworks going off as a large group of people watched on.
A huge effigy of Ravana had just been set off and loud bangs and cracks with fire and sparks flying into the air were going off as the train came speeding through the packed audience.
Suddenly the train crashed through the crowd with screams of disbelief as it failed to stop for the spectators.
Bystanders rushed around the bodies and police tried to carry away the injured.
The moment was captured on many people’s camera phones as they were filming the fireworks as the train sped passed in front of them.
An injured man (centre), is being helped by people to get to an ambulance after a train accident which left at least 60 people dead
Relatives and revellers gather around the bodies of victims of the train accident during the occasion of the Hindu festival of Dussehra in Amritsar
An angry crowd shouts slogans at the site of a train accident, blaming railroad authorities for the tragedy
An Indian man cries near the dead body of his brother kept on railway track after the accident in Amritsar today
A police official said: ‘There was a lot of noise as firecrackers were being let off and it appears they were unable to hear the approaching train.
An eyewitness told a local TV channel there was ‘utter commotion’ when the crowds noticed the train ‘coming very fast’ towards them.
He said: ‘Everyone was running helter-skelter and suddenly another train crashed into the crowds of people.
Amritsar city police commissioner S.S. Srivastava told reporters: ‘There are more than 50 casualties. The priority now is to take the injured to the hospital.’
Another police officer said: ‘The people were sitting on and near the tracks on the outskirts of Amritsar watching the burning of effigies as part of the Dusshera festival when a commuter train ran over them.’
ANI news agency reported that an eyewitness at the scene said the train that ran over people was travelling at a high speed.
India is home to hundreds of railway crossings that are unmanned and particularly accident prone, with motorists often ignoring oncoming train warnings.
Nearly 15,000 people die on the country’s railways every year, according to a 2012 government report.
An elderly couple identify the shoe of their son as they search for him on the railway tracks after the burning of Ravana effigy during Dusshera celebrations
A crowd gathered at the site of the accident as villagers blamed rail authorities for not taking precautions during the packed festival
Spectators were said to be sitting and standing on and around the tracks when the high speed commuter train sped through the festival audience
Police gathered at the site to help with the rescue efforts after at least 60 people were killed
Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, has ordered an inquiry into the latest disaster.
He tweeted: ‘District authorities have been mobilised on war footing.’
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter: ‘The tragedy is heart-wrenching.
‘My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly.’
While accidents are relatively common on India’s sprawling rail network, Friday’s was among India’s deadliest in recent years.
In 2016, 146 people were killed when a train slid off railroad tracks in eastern India.
Before trgedy struck, Sikh youths took selfies next to the effigies of the Hindu demon king Ravana before it was set off today
People watch the rescue work from a rooftop of a house near the railway tracks after the train accident
To be continued
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