Dozens die in West Bengal train crash

The BBC's Rahul Tandon says there are fears the death toll will rise further

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A train crash in eastern India has killed at least 60 people and injured another 120, officials say.

A speeding passenger express hit another train waiting at a station in the town of Sainthia, West Bengal state, early on Monday.

The impact sent the roof of a coach into a footbridge above the tracks.

Residents climbed through the mangled trains looking for survivors. It was the second major railway accident in West Bengal this year.

At the scene

In this hospital, they've been busy counting the dead since this morning. Most of them were sleeping when a high-speed train crashed into the back of a packed passenger train at Sainthia station.

The initial evidence suggests it was due to either signal failure or human error. The patients who survived want answers. While they wait, relatives of the victims have begun to collect the bodies of those less fortunate.

In May, nearly 150 people died when a Bombay-bound passenger train derailed and was hit by a goods train. Police accused Maoist rebels of sabotaging the track, but Maoists denied the charge.

The cause of the latest crash is not yet clear.

A number of trapped passengers were freed from the wreckage by emergency workers using gas cutters and other tools.

Local officials say the accident occurred at about 0200 local time on Monday (2030 GMT Sunday) when the Uttar Banga Express crashed into the stationary Bhagalpur-Ranchi Vananchal Express at the station in the Birbhum district, about 200km (125 miles) north of Calcutta.

One witness described to the BBC his narrow escape.

INDIA TRAIN CRASHES

  • 28 May 2010: Nearly 150 people die in a derailment blamed on Maoist rebels in West Bengal
  • 14 November 2009: At least seven are killed when an express train crashes near Jaipur
  • 2 November 2009: 14 are killed when a passenger train rams into a truck at an unmanned crossing in the state of Uttar Pradesh
  • 21 October 2009: Two passenger trains collide near Mathura in northern India, killing at least 22
  • 14 February 2009: At least 15 people are killed in a train derailment in the state of Orissa

"At the station my train was just about to pull out when I heard a big scream, 'There's going to be a crash,'" said the man.

"So I clung on to a bar by my feet. Then there was a massive bang. Most of the people in my carriage died in front of me."

Emergency officials said all the passengers trapped in the wreckage had been rescued and all the injured taken to hospitals.

Officials believe the trains were packed with commuters heading to work.

There is speculation that faulty signalling may have been the cause of the crash. A police investigation is now under way.

Accidents are common on the state-owned Indian railway, an immense network connecting every corner of the vast country.

It operates 9,000 passenger trains and carries some 18 million passengers every day.

Rail crash map

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