Indian town picks up pieces after train kills 60 people watching fireworks

Sergio Conner
October 21, 2018

Pratap Singh Bajwa says the victims were watching fireworks during a religious festival on Friday. The minister said drivers are given specific instructions on where to slow down the train.

They were also demanding that missing persons be traced and adequate compensation given to the families of those killed after a Jalandhar-Amritsar train ploughed through a crowd watching Ravan's effigy being burnt. Hindustan Times delivers the news across all social media platforms, on the web, and at your doorstep.

Amit Singh, the gate-keeper at the level crossing, said that no permission had been sought for the event. Senior Divisional Security Commissioner (Railways), Firozpur Division, S Sudharkar told PTI, "Train services have resumed on the affected rail track (Joda Phatak)".

Police said it was "freak accident" as people did not hear the train approaching amid the din of festivities and fireworks.

Railway authorities defended themselves saying that they had not been informed about the Dussehra event at that spot and the local police did not prevent the people from coming on the live and busy railway tracks.

Hardeep Singh, chief medical officer for Amritsar, told AFP 59 deaths had been confirmed and 90 people had been injured, with seven in critical condition.

Following the tragic accident, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal who was in the U.S., cancelled all his engagements and was set to return.

"The event was organised by Mithu Madan's family, whose mother is a Congress councillor in the area". The CM has also ordered an inquiry into the accident.

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Railway authorities clarified that the organisers had not taken any permission from them to burn the effigy near the tracks.

Railway police said that the death toll had risen to 60.

Although Dussehra celebrations were not held on this plot last year, it has been used to celebrate Dussehra for nearly 10 years, said Jeet Singh Bhatia, a corporator whose ward is located next to the ground.

In their letter seeking the certificate, the organisers had also asked for security arrangements, citing the expected presence of Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife, former MLA Navjot Kaur Sidhu, at the event.

There could have been a bigger tragedy if the driver had applied emergency brakes, he added.

Locals gather near the site of accident at Jodh Phatak.

The CM, who arrived in Amritsar today, was briefed by the district officials and the crises management team about the train accident and the relief operations at the airport before he headed for the hospitals. "Nobody has received anything till now", said Ravinder, one of the protesters who only gave his first name. Earlier this month, I was honoured to visit the Golden Temple and witnessed the warmth and generosity of the people. "I offer my deepest sympathies over tragic consequences of an accident on railways in Punjab".

The Northern Railway CPRO said that due to some incident, people started running towards gate No. 27 between Amritsar and Manawala.

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