India train disaster toll rises to 146
NEW DELHI: Indian rescuers yesterday called off a search of the mangled carriages of a derailed train after pulling more bodies from the wreckage, taking to at least 146 the number of passengers killed in the disaster.
Sunday’s derailment in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh was India’s deadliest train tragedy since 2010 and has renewed concern about poor safety on the state-run network.
A lifeline for millions, the railways suffer from chronic underinvestment, which has left it with ageing tracks and outdated rolling stock.
Rescue teams worked through the night with cranes and cutters to disentangle the train before police halted the search of the 14 carriages that derailed in the early hours while most passengers slept.
“The rescue operations are over. We don’t expect to find any more bodies,” said Zaki Ahmed, the police inspector general in the city of Kanpur, about 65km from Pukhrayan, the crash site.
All of the carriages, some crumpled beyond recognition, have since been removed from the tracks.
The crash came during India’s busy wedding season and media said bloodstained bags of saris and wedding cards carried by at least one wedding party on board were scattered beside the wreckage.
The derailment injured close to 200 people, scores of them seriously, officials said. After the tragedy, relatives thronged hospitals in a search for survivors.
A railways spokesman said the train carried 1,000 people travelling on reservations, but 700 more were estimated to have squeezed into the unreserved carriages. The largely colonial-era railway system, the world’s fourth largest, carries a saturation-level total of about 23 million people daily.
The crash is a stark reminder of the obstacles facing Prime Minister Narendra Modi in delivering on his promise to turn the railways into a more efficient, safer network befitting India’s economic power. – Reuters