Train kills 50 people watching fireworks in India during festival

Dozens of people died when a train ran into a crowd watching fireworks during a religious festival in northern India, according to authorities.

Key points:

  • People did not hear the train approaching amid the din of festivities
  • At least 60 admitted to hospital in "freak accident"
  • The incident was among the deadliest rail tragedies in recent years

The police commissioner said at least 58 people died in the disaster on Friday (local time).

At least 60 people were admitted to hospital after the "freak accident", with fireworks making it impossible to hear the approaching train, one police officer said.

"The people were sitting on and near the tracks on the outskirts of Amritsar watching the burning of effigies as part of the Dussehra festival when a commuter train ran over them," the police officer said.

A witness at the scene said the train was travelling at a high speed, according to ANI news agency.

Amarinder Singh, Punjab chief minister, said he was rushing to Amritsar to supervise relief and rescue operations.

"District authorities have been mobilised on war footing," he tweeted.

Local television stations showed images of angry and distraught locals, including a weeping mother who had just lost a child in the tragedy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was saddened by the accident.

"The tragedy is heart-wrenching," he tweeted.

"My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly."

While accidents are relatively common on India's sprawling rail network, Friday's was among the deadliest in recent years.

In 2016, 146 people were killed when a train slid off railroad tracks in eastern India.



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