Death toll rises to 61 in India train disaster

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Photo taken on Oct. 20, 2018 shows the site of a train accident near Amritsar, northern state of Punjab, India. The passenger train mowed over more than 100 people, killing 61 of them. Xinhua

NEW DELHI (Xinhua) – At least 61 people were killed and over 70 others injured in northern Indian state of Punjab after a train, travelling from Jalandhar to Amritsar city, ran into a crowd watching festivities of a Hindu festival on the railway tracks, officials said Saturday.

The incident took place Friday evening at 6:45 p.m. local time at Jaura Phatak in Amritsar, the Sikh holy city of Punjab.

“So far 61 people, including women and children, have been killed in the incident and 72 others who were injured have been admitted at a hospital here,” a local government official Rajesh Sharma in Amritsar told the media.

Eyewitnesses and officials said the crowd had gathered to watch the celebrations of a Hindu festival Dussehra when a train ran over hundreds of them standing on a railway track.

Dussehra is a Hindu festival marking the triumph of good over evil. Effigies are burnt and fireworks are set off as part of the festival in north India.

As the firecracker-filled effigy was lit and fireworks went off, there was lot of noise and people who were hit could not see or hear the train that mowed them.

Eyewitnesses said many on the tracks were busy filming the festivities on their phones, and did not notice the train approaching at high speed.

The state has decided to observe a day of mourning on Saturday in wake of the incident.

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