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Indians protest after dozens killed in train accident

Indians protest after dozens killed in train accident

Angry relatives staged a protest yesterday on the tracks where a speeding train ran into crowds, who were celebrating a Hindu festival, which killed around 60 people in northern India.

The train, a Jalandhar-Amritsar express hit scores of revelers who gathered on railway tracks on the outskirts of Amritsar city in the state of Punjab on Friday to watch a firework display.

The victims were dismembered or mutilated beyond even recognition and police said it would take several days to complete the process of identification of the bodies.

Many desperate parents went from hospital to hospital in the city on Saturday on the look out for their missing children, while the first funerals of a few victims were held.

Hardeep Singh, the chief medical officer for Amritsar, said that 59 deaths have been confirmed and 90 people had been injured out of which seven are in critical condition.

He said that only 25 bodies had been identified so far. The city’s main hospital did not have enough space in its morgue, and some corpses had to be laid outside.

The disaster has led to demands for safety reforms to India’s accident-plagued railway system which records thousands of deaths every year.

VP Singh Badnore, the Punjab State Governor assured that those who need to be punished will be punished and accountability will be fixed.

Scores of protesters gathered on the railway tracks and condemned the Punjab state government and demanded action against the driver of the train who was questioned by police on Saturday. Many others blocked a nearby road.

Police had to move the protesters off the tracks and brought in reinforcements for controlling the crowd of hundreds that had gathered around the scene of the disaster.

Investigators said the victims couldn’t hear the train as the drone of the locomotive was drowned out by firecrackers. Officials said that another train had narrowly missed the crowds just two minutes earlier.

The driver told police that he did not see the revelers until the last second as he had come around a bend in the dark into the firework smoke.

Attempts to apportion blame are on. The Police said that they had given permission for the display of the annual Dussehra festival fireworks, but the organizers did not have approval from the city, health department and the fire brigade.

Indian Railways also said that it had not been informed of the celebration. Though locals said that the event had been happening at the same place for several years.

If media reports in India are to be believed the organizers who are members of the Congress party which rules in Punjab, had gone into hiding.

The Railway Minister of India, Piyush Goyal returned early from a trip to the United States to reach Amritsar on Saturday while Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh called off his trip to Israel to go to the disaster scene.

 

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