Two trains full with passengers derailed within minutes of one another, each derailing while crossing a bridge that was affected by flooding in central India near the town of Harda in Madhya Pradesh state. Officials say 31 persons are dead with about 100 injured, some critically; the number of dead has not been confirmed.
The trains were going in opposite directions but did not strike one another; some carriages fell into the Machak River below. “There have been 27 deaths due to the accidents,” the Madhya Pradesh railway police chief, MS Gupta, told local media. “All the coaches have been cleared and all bodies have been collected from inside.”
Since Gupta spoke, some reports have the death toll rising by four.
The derailment occurred at about 11:30 p.m . local time and rescuers had to search tilted train carriages in the dark with flashlights. The situation was dangerous, officials said, but there have been no further injuries during rescue operations. Medical personnel were on scene.
Officials said that it is likely the tracks on the bridge were submerged in water. One of the trains hit a large body of water and it’s last 4 or 5 cars derailed, the other also hit the surging waters, derailing its engine and three of its front cars.
Some 300 passengers have been rescued. Railway officials have ordered an inquiry into the derailment. India’s state-run railway network has some 12,000 trains that carry 23 million passengers each day.