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The BBC's Samantha Simmonds
"Indian railways suffer some 300 accidents a year"
 real 56k

Saturday, 23 June, 2001, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
India train crash toll rises
Rescue efforts
Crowds gathered to watch and help the rescue
Officials in the Indian state of Kerala say 64 bodies have now been recovered from the mangled wreckage of a passenger train that came off the rails on a century-old bridge on Friday.


There was a sound when the train passed over the bridge. The carriage was thrown off and half of it was underwater

Crash survivor
Most of the dead were in three carriages that plunged off the bridge and into the river below.

Military divers were brought in to try to reach passengers trapped inside these submerged carriages.

Above the surface, rescue teams using cutting gear were hampered by heavy rains.

Police in Calicut, close to the scene of the accident, said at least 200 people were injured, half of them seriously.

Kerala map
Rescue workers say the death toll is likely to rise further.

Initial reports from railway officials suggested that sustained heavy rainfall in the previous 24 hours could have affected the track - but this has not been confirmed.

A full inquiry has been ordered.

The accident happened at around 1720 local time (1150 GMT) on Friday.

The train - travelling from Mangalore to Madras - was said to have been crowded with commuters on their way home at the end of the working day.

Hanging

Passengers described how they had heard a loud noise as the train passed over the bridge. Then the carriages were thrown into the air before being half submerged in water.

Local people and medical staff carry a wounded person into to the hospital at Kadalundi
The injured were taken to hospital at Kadalundi
Up to three cars were left hanging from the bridge several metres above the Kadalundi river.

Villagers in boats helped firefighters and police pull passengers from the partially submerged carriages, while crowds stood along the riverbanks to watch the rescue efforts.

The state-owned Indian Railways carries more than 11 million people daily over more than 100,000km of track.

On average, there are 300 accidents a year. In May, at least 25 died after a collision between a train and a bus in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Overcrowding, lack of investment - especially in new technology - and the difficulties of supervising a vast workforce are all cited as chronic underlying problems.

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See also:

02 Aug 99 | South Asia
Crash highlights overcrowding
02 Dec 00 | South Asia
India's antiquated railways
09 Aug 99 | South Asia
Indian Railways - Your Experiences
07 May 98 | S/W Asia
Two bus crashes kill dozens in India
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