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Friday, 3 January, 2003, 16:46 GMT
'Error' blamed for India train deaths
Scene of Friday's train crash at Ghatnandur station
Several carriages of the train were derailed
At least 18 people have died after an Indian passenger train collided with a stationary goods train in the western state of Maharashtra, railway officials say.

It was a human failure as the point was not set for the train which went ahead on the same track where another train was already stationed

Railway Minister Nitish Kumar
Twenty-five others who were injured have been taken to hospital.

Several carriages of the express train were derailed during the collision at Ghatnandur station.

Railways Minister Nitish Kumar told the BBC that the accident was the result of human error.

Five railway officials had been suspended, he said.

It is the third major train crash in India in the past two weeks.

Railway officials say they have identified eight of the dead so far.

They say the track will be repaired by Friday night and traffic will be restored.

'Human failure'

The express was on its way from Secunderabad in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh to Manmad in Maharashtra when the accident took place, early on Friday.

Map
The express crashed into a stationary goods train which was on the same track.

"It was a human failure as the point was not set for the train which went ahead on the same track where another train was already stationed," Mr Kumar said in Delhi.

Three coaches of the express train were badly damaged.

Rescue and relief teams have been sent to the crash site.

A special train has also been arranged from Secunderabad to the scene of accident to carry the worried relatives of the passengers.

Rail deaths

Last month, a train derailed in southern India, killing 20 people and leaving more than 90 injured.

Investigators said the cause of that crash was sabotage.

And some 118 passengers died in September near Bihar's Rafigung station when the Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express went off the tracks and several carriages fell off a dilapidated railway bridge into a swollen river.

India has one of the largest rail systems in the world, carrying 11 million people daily over more than 100,000 kilometres of track.

Much of the network still depends on outdated signalling equipment that is manually operated.

Although accidents are still frequent, safety levels have greatly improved in recent decades, officials say.

See also:

24 Dec 02 | South Asia
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07 Aug 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
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