BY ANJANA PASRICHA FOR VOA NEWS IN New Delhi- In eastern India, more than 50 people have been killed and about 100 others injured in a train collision.
Most passengers were sleeping when an express train, traveling at high speed, hit a train standing at Sainthia station in West Bengal at about 2:00 am, Monday.
Sainthia is about 200 kilometers north of the state capital, Kolkata.
Two coaches and a luggage car were reduced to a mass of tangled metal. The impact of the collision was so great that one of the coaches was flung onto an over-head bridge at the rail station.
Local residents were among the first to arrive on the scene, and help those trapped inside the coaches. Metal cutters sliced through the twisted metal as rescue operations carried on for several hours.
The affected coaches were those where passengers can travel without a reservation. These are usually packed.
Samir Goswami is a railway spokesman for the area in which the accident occurred.
“Our priority is to give medical attention to people who are affected. Most of the people have been taken to the local hospital,” said Goswami.
Railway spokesman Anil Saxena says it is not clear how the high speed train came to be on the same track as the stationary train.
“How did that happen? Under what circumstances did that happen? Who is responsible – all these are matters of investigation,” said Saxena. “Till then, all the options are valid, you know all kinds of possibilities.”
This is the second train disaster in West Bengal in less than two months. In May, nearly 100 people died in a train collision blamed on Maoist sympathizers.
India’s massive rail network carries more than 18 million people, everyday, and is the main mode of transport for long distance passengers across the vast country. Outdated technology and equipment is often blamed for frequent accidents.