Over 50 feared dead as train runs them over during Dussehra celebrations


At least 50 people were killed as a train in Amritsar's Joda Phatak on Friday ran into a crowd watching the burning of an effigy of Ravan, PTI reported quoting Sub-divisional Magistrate Rajesh Sharma.

All services on Jalandhar-Amritsar route remained suspended three hours after Dussehra revellers standing across railway tracks were mowed down by a train near Amritsar Friday evening, a railway official said. "The toll can rise", State police chief Suresh Arora told Reuters, adding emergency officials were still trying to ascertain the extent of the disaster on the outskirts of Amritsar in Punjab state.

He said they didn't see the train, which failed to stop after the accident.

It was not clear why the train did not halt despite the presence of so many people on the tracks and why the railway crossing was left open for people to gather.

Another witness said the victims did not realise that a train was coming their way because the fireworks were too loud.

#WATCH Eyewitness at #Amritsar accident site says, "Congress had organised Dussehra celebrations here without permission". "There are more than 50 casualties".

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Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced Rs 5 lakh for kin of each deceased and free treatment for the injured. President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences over the tragedy.

"The tragedy is heart-wrenching". Have asked officials to provide immediate assistance that is required. "District authorities have been mobilised on war footing".

A 2012 government report described the loss of 15,000 passengers to rail accidents every year in India as a "massacre".

India's railway network is the world´s fourth largest and remains the main form of travel in the vast country, but it is poorly funded and deadly accidents often occur.

Following the train disaster in Punjab, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday cancelled his engagements in the United States and was on his way back to India.