NEW DELHI (AP) – Two passenger trains derailed in India on Friday, killing at least 50 people and trapping hundreds more in more than a dozen damaged train cars, officials said.
About 400 people have been taken to hospitals after the accident, which happened in eastern India about 137 miles southwest of Kolkata, officials said. The cause has been investigated.
Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde, the chief administrator in Balasore district, said at least 50 people had died.
Nearly 500 police officers and rescue workers with 75 ambulances and buses were deployed after the accident, said Pradeep Jena, the top bureaucrat of the state of Odisha.
Rescuers tried to extricate 200 people who were feared trapped in the rubble, said DB Shinde, administrator of the state’s Balasore district.
Amitabh Sharma, a spokesman for the Ministry of Railways, said 10 to 12 cars from a train derailed and debris from some of the damaged cars fell onto a nearby track. It was hit by another passenger train coming from the opposite direction.
Up to three wagons of the second train also derailed.
The Press Trust of India news agency said the derailed Coromandel Express was en route from Howrah in West Bengal state to Chennai, capital of southern Tamil Nadu state.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was concerned about the accident.
“In this hour of sadness, my thoughts are with the bereaved. May the injured recover soon,” tweeted Modi, who said he had spoken to the railway minister and was being offered “any help possible.”
Despite government efforts to improve railway safety, several hundred accidents occur each year on India’s railways, the world’s largest single-line train network.
In August 1995, two trains collided near New Delhi, killing 358 people in the deadliest train crash in Indian history.
Most train accidents are due to human error or outdated signaling equipment.
More than 12 million people travel 40,000 miles a day on 14,000 trains across India.