A train crash in India kills more than 260 people

A train crash in eastern India has killed more than 260 people, according to officials, in one of the country’s deadliest rail accidents in decades.

According to official figures, at least 261 people were killed and 900 injured in a collision between several trains in the state of Odisha on Friday evening.

The Coromandel Express, traveling from Kolkata to Chennai in southern India, crashed into a derailed train traveling from Bengaluru to Kolkata. Local media reported that a stationary freight train also got into the collision.

Television images showed railroad cars scattered across the tracks, some piled one on top of the other. Witnesses said they saw the bodies of dead and mutilated victims scattered around the site.

“As I got off the train, I saw limbs scattered everywhere, a leg here, a hand there,” one survivor told NDTV.

A rescue operation was completed on Saturday after workers searched for passengers trapped in the crumpled train cars. Officials did not immediately say what led to the collision, which happened near the town of Balasore, and said they were investigating.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the scene of the accident, spoke to rescue workers and inspected the debris.

Friday’s accident was the deadliest since 1999, when a train crash in West Bengal state killed 285 people.

“There was a deafening noise and then our train reversed and stopped with a tremendous jerk,” said Vidhan Jena, a passenger on one of the trains, according to the Times of India. “I was shocked to see bodies lying here and there. It was a terrifying sight.”

India’s railway network is one of the largest in the world and is vital to the movement of people and goods across the country.

But the aging system suffers from chronic underinvestment and a series of tragic and fatal accidents have occurred. In 2016, a train derailed in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, killing more than 150 people.

Additional coverage from Reuters

Sybil Alvarez

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