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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
'14 killed' in Indian train crash
The crashed Matsyagandha Express train
Rains and hilly terrain hindered rescue operations at the site
At least 14 people died and 115 were injured when a train derailed during heavy monsoon rains in western India, officials say.

The passenger train came off the tracks as it crossed a river near the Konkan coast in western Maharashtra state at around 0610 local time (0140 GMT).

Local people helped passengers trapped in carriages hanging from the bridge in Raigad district, correspondents say.

The train was said to have been travelling from Mangalore to Bombay.

Reports said the derailment, between Veer and Karanjadi, 200km (125 miles) to the south of Bombay (also known as Mumbai), was caused by boulders that had fallen on to the tracks in the rains.

The first 11 coaches had gone off the rails, a statement on the Konkan Railway website said.

'Difficult rescue'

Thirty of the passengers injured in the accident involving the Matsyagandha Express were seriously ill, Indian railway authorities said.

Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav
If anyone is found guilty he will be punished
Laloo Prasad Yadav,
railway minister

The injured have been taken to a hospital in Mahad, a town 20km from the accident site.

"It was a difficult task to remove the bodies", a senior railway official, Vaishali Patange, told the Reuters news agency.

"Some were hanging precariously out of the coaches. But we managed to get them out."

The rains and hilly terrain hindered rescue operations at the site.

"The only approach is through a winding road over the hills," a doctor at the Mahad hospital told the Associated Press agency.

The managing director of Konkan Railway, B Rajaram, told the BBC that 300 people were carrying out rescue work.

The track was expected to be restored on Thursday morning.

Scenic route

Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav said the route on which the accident happened was prone to landslides.

Mr Yadav, who is on his way to the crash site from Calcutta, immediately ordered an investigation.

"If anyone is found guilty he will be punished," he said.

Mr Yadav promised there would be a comprehensive survey of landslide-prone areas in the region.

Map showing location of Maharashtra state and Mangalore

He said compensation of 100,000 rupees ($2,200) for each family of the deceased would be paid.

Fifty-one people died in a similar incident on the line last year.

The Konkan route, said to be one of India's most scenic, was built in 1998.

It is of one of Asia's longest new railway line projects.

The 760km railway links Bombay with Mangalore, which lies on the border of Karnataka and Kerala.

The Konkan has had plenty of problems: it was completed three years late, and cost 34bn rupees - three times more than the projected cost.

It has about 2,000 bridges and 92 tunnels.

India's railway network is among the world's largest, carrying more than 13 million passengers a day.

But it has a poor safety record, with around 300 accidents a year.

The BBC's Adam Mynott reports from Delhi
"Many people have been injured, some seriously"

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