Sun, Oct 30, 2005 - Page 5 News List

At least 100 die in India train crash

SUBMERGED The train derailed in an area that has been flooded by persistent rain and many of those who died are believed to have drowned

AFP , NALGONDA, INDIA

At least 100 bodies have been recovered and more were feared killed when a passenger train derailed and then toppled into floodwaters in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh early yesterday.

An AFP correspondent on the scene said he had seen at least 20 bodies recovered by rescuers by mid-morning, around six hours after the accident occurred.

Windows were broken on one wagon through which passengers appear to have escaped but two nearby carriages appeared to be full of dead bodies, he said.

Two army helicopters were lowering troops down to the submerged bogeys to carry out rescue operations.

Police said up to 40 people were feared killed when eight carriages of the passenger train derailed as it hit a section of the track in Nalgonda district that had been submerged by floodwaters from an overflowing reservoir nearby.

The reservoir had earlier been hit by flashfloods caused by rains which have swamped southern India for more than a week, a railway official said.

"We've heard but we cannot confirm that 30 to 40 people have died so far, by drowning," Swaranjit Sen, Andhra Pradesh director general of police, told Aaj Tak television news channel.

"Approximately two wagons are under water and one is visible and this was a passenger train, but we are unable to say how many people are still in those wagons or have gotten out, but it certainly seems that 30 to 40 people must definitely be dead."

He said that Nalgonda district where the accident occurred around 4:30am was "somewhat remote" and difficult to reach because of the floodwaters.

Esther Kar, for the railway ministry, said some people were still alive in the coaches, "but if they come out they will be swept away."

The army has 50 soldiers and six boats at the scene, Kar said, adding that among those killed was the driver of the train.

South Central Railway spokesman Michael Fredericks said rain and flooding over the past two days had also made it difficult to get help to the derailed train.

"Because of the steady rain there are a number of difficulties because of which relief is taking longer to arrive," Fredericks said.

"Medical relief vans with doctors from Secunderabad and Vijayawada have arrived there and first aid is being administered."

Two army helicopters which had been lowering troops down to the submerged bogeys to conduct rescue operations had called off the operation because it was proving too difficult.

Rescue teams were instead using ropes and stretchers to help them wade through the water to reach the train carriages.

Boats had also been brought in to help remove the bodies.

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