Page last updated at 07:56 GMT, Saturday, 14 February 2009

Fifteen die in India train crash

Hundreds of local people helped in the rescue

At least 15 people were killed and more than 100 injured when a passenger train was derailed in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, officials say.

Some 12 carriages of the Cormandel Express came off the rails soon after the train left Jajpur Road station near the city of Bhubaneswar, they say.

The train was travelling between Calcutta and Chennai (Madras).

The cause of the accident is unclear, but reports say the train was travelling at a very high speed.

In a separate development, railway authorities have announced a 2% reduction in passenger rail fares.

The railways ministry has also unveiled plans to bring in more than 40 new trains.

Emergency lighting

The accident happened near the town of Jajpur, some 100km (62 miles) north of the city of Bhubaneswar, officials say.


"At least 15 deaths are confirmed," said JP Mishra, a senior spokesperson for East Coast Railway. "We do not know what caused the accident as yet."

Rescue and medical teams from the Bhubaneswar headquarters of East Coast Railway were rushed to the accident site, officials said.

They erected emergency lighting to speed up a rescue effort that was initially hampered because the accident took place in the dark.

Hundreds of local people also helped the emergency services.

'Financial turnaround'

Meanwhile, Rail Minister Lalu Prasad has announced the interim rail budget for the financial year to March 2010.

He said that slow economic growth, higher wages and lower passenger revenues could reduce income but not investment.

"The same railways which faced a paucity of funds for replacement of over-aged assets in 2001... have now surprised the whole world with a historic financial turnaround," Mr Yadav said.

He predicted that the railways - one of the world's oldest and largest networks transporting about 18 million people a day - would carry 910 million tonnes of freight from 2009 to 2010, up 60 million tonnes from the previous year.

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