24 dead as Indian trains derail

Two Indian passenger trains lay next to each other following a derailment after they were hit by flash floods on a bridge. Picture: AFP/Getty

Two Indian passenger trains lay next to each other following a derailment after they were hit by flash floods on a bridge. Picture: AFP/Getty

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AT LEAST 24 people died when two passenger trains came off flooded tracks near a bridge in central India yesterday.

Witnesses said that the derailments initially caused two coaches to come off the tracks and land on their sides in the muddy embankment.

Indian officials stand next to two passenger trains on top of each other following the derailment: AFP/Getty

Indian officials stand next to two passenger trains on top of each other following the derailment: AFP/Getty

The Kamayani Express was on its way to Mumbai when it derailed near the town of Harda in Madhya Pradesh state, while the Janata Express was travelling in the opposite direction when it slid off the tracks soon ­afterwards.

The trains were crossing a small bridge near the Machak River, about 590 miles south of New Delhi. Another train had passed the same culvert ten minutes before the first derailment without any problem, but then a flash flood caused part of the track to sink into the rain-soaked ground, said a senior railway officer. Six coaches from the Kamayani Express and the engine and four coaches from the Janata Express derailed just before midnight.

Although rescue workers soon reached the site, their efforts were hampered by darkness. At least two coaches were partially submerged in the mud, according to reports. While most people had been pulled to safety, rescue workers were still searching for passengers thought to be trapped.

“Most of the coaches had passed but the last few carriages were derailed,” the spokesman said.

Television footage showed some train cars fell on one side and others were leaning in the mud. Tracks were broken, uprooted and scattered, and a detached train wheel was visible in one section. At least 24 bodies have been recovered.

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