BANGALORE, India – At least 14 people were killed and around 35 injured on Tuesday when a passenger train slammed into a stationary goods train in southern India, a local railway official told AFP.
The sleeper train was travelling to Bangalore, India’s IT hub and the capital of Karnataka state, when it collided with the goods train at Penneconda station in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh.
“At least 14 people, including one child and two women, died when three coaches of the Hampi Express overturned following a collision with a goods train,” G.K. Jalan, the railways’ regional public relations officer, told AFP.
“We think three people are still trapped inside one of the coaches, we are not sure if they are alive or dead,” Jalan said.
He added that 35 people had been injured, with those seriously hurt taken for treatment in three nearby hospitals.
The accident occurred before dawn, according to Chandralekha Mukherjee, executive director for information at the railways ministry in New Delhi.
“It appears that the driver of the passenger train overshot a signal, and hit the goods train, but we are awaiting the results of an inquiry,” Mukherjee told AFP.
The collision also caused a fire in one carriage, which was extinguished quickly, she said.
Rescue workers and medical officials worked through the early hours, using steel cutters to slash through the twisted metal and extricate those inside the overturned carriages.
Television footage from the scene showed mangled, upturned coaches with rescue workers carrying out injured passengers on stretchers with the aid of flashlights.
The Press Trust of India news agency said that the driver of the train had survived the impact but was unconscious.
Railway Minister Mukul Roy was on his way to the site of the accident and expected to arrive later Tuesday.
India’s rail network is still the main form of long-distance travel in the country despite fierce competition from private airlines.
The last major train accident in India occurred in July last year when a packed express train travelling from Kolkata to New Delhi derailed at high speed in the state of Uttar Pradesh, killing 69 people.
India’s worst rail accident was in 1981 when a train plunged into a river in the eastern state of Bihar, killing an estimated 800 people.