Rescuers are racing against time to pull survivors from the wreckage of a train crash in eastern India as the death toll has risen to more than 230 people.
Some 900 people were injured in the accident in the Balasore district of the eastern state of Odisha, said Pradeep Jena, the state’s top administrative official. The cause was under investigation.
Hundreds of people were trapped inside more than a dozen wrecked carriages overnight in one of the country’s deadliest train accidents in two decades.
The accident, which happened about 220 kilometers (137 miles) southwest of Kolkata on Friday night, sparked chaotic scenes as rescuers climbed on top of wrecked trains to blow open doors and windows with torches to free survivors. .
Sudhanshu Sarangi, director of the Odisha fire department, said it was possible people were trapped below but unlikely to be alive.
“At 10 p.m. (on Friday) we were able to rescue the survivors. After that it was about collecting corpses, ”she said. “This is very, very tragic. I’ve never seen anything like it in my career.”
Ten to 12 carriages of a train derailed, with debris from some of the wrecked carriages falling onto a nearby track, said Amitabh Sharma, spokesman for the Ministry of Railways.
The debris was struck by another passenger train coming from the opposite direction, causing up to three carriages of the second train to derail as well, it added.
A third train carrying cargo was also involved, the Press Trust of India reported, but there was no immediate confirmation of that from the railway authorities. PTI said some of the derailed passenger cars collided with freight train cars.
Dozens of bodies, covered by white sheets, lay on the ground near the train tracks as locals and rescuers rushed to help survivors.
Rescue teams and police continued to check the ruins on Saturday morning as the search operation continued, amid fears the death toll was likely to rise further.
Dozens of people also showed up at a local hospital to donate blood.
Authorities said 1,200 rescuers worked with 115 ambulances, 50 buses and 45 mobile health units overnight at the crash site.
Saturday was declared a day of mourning in Odisha as the state’s chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, visited the district to meet the injured passengers.