61 killed as train crushes Dasara revellers in Amritsar

1-day mourning declared

At least 61 people were feared dead and 72 injured after they were crushed under the wheels of a speeding train in the holy city of Amritsar late Friday evening during Dasara celebrations.

Scores of men, women and children of a migrant settlement adjoining the railway track had gathered to watch the effigy of Ravana being burnt. Many of them got on to the tracks on an embankment to get a better view.

They failed to notice the approaching train and were crushed under its wheels. Body parts were strewn all over as the train sped by. The sound of the burning crackers from the effigy was so loud that the people on the railway track could not hear the approaching train which ran over the onlookers.

“It was a terrible sight to see limbs of women and children scattered all along the sides of the railway track,” said an eyewitness. 


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The train was headed for Amritsar from Pathankot. According to eyewitnesses, just when the Ravana effigy was set on fire near Jada Phatak railway track near Chora Bazar area, more onlookers moved towards the railway tracks. Those watching the event could not hear the train whistle, leading to the tragedy.

Navjot Kaur Sidhu, senior BJP leader and wife of Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, was the chief guest at the event when tragedy struck.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of the of deceased. An official said the Railways were not kept in the loop about the celebrations near the tracks. He said gathering of people near the tracks was a case of trespassing.

The people were in shock and disbelief as they narrated the incident. "The driver didn't blow the horn," alleged one of the witnesses.

Another women was inconsolable as she said her son has been killed in the accident. 

Acting on the chief minister’s directives, Rehabilitation Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Health Minister Brahm Mohindra have already rushed to Amritsar to supervise rescue and relief operations.

Punjab's Home Secretary, Health Secretary and DGP (Law & Order) have also left for Amritsar.

Singh has issued orders to mobilize all necessary administrative and police personnel on a war footing to help the district administration tackle the situation.

The chief minister has also directed the chief secretary to deploy administrative officials to ensure that the injured people are hospitalised immediately.

All private hospitals have been asked to remain open to provide urgent free treatment and care to the injured.

The chief minister said a thorough probe will be conducted into the incident. Why an effigy was allowed to be burnt close to the railway tracks will also be investigated.

 

A video of the incident has been uploaded on social media  by a Twitter user identified as Satinder Pal Singh and is being run as visuals on television channels
NOTE: Visuals may be disturbing in nature. 

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced all possible assistance by the Centre to Punjab as a large number of Dussehra revellers standing across railway tracks were mowed down by a passing train near Amritsar.

"Pained beyond words at the loss of precious lives due to a train tragedy during Dussehra festivities in Punjab. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased and prayers with the injured," Singh tweeted soon after the incident.

The Home Minister said he has spoken to Home Secretary and DGP of Punjab regarding the accident and they are rushing to the spot. "Centre is ready to provide all possible assistance to the state at this hour of grief," he said.

As the effigy was lit and the fireworks went off, a section of the crowd started retreating towards the tracks where a large number of people were already standing to watch the event, officials said.

However, two trains arrived from the opposite direction at the same time giving little opportunity to people to escape, they said

At least 300 people were at the spot watching 'Ravan Dahan', sources said.

The toll is likely to rise, he said. Further details are awaited.

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61 killed as train crushes Dasara revellers in Amritsar

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