Indore-Patna express train derailment: Death toll climbs to 145

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Nov 21, 2016, 05:58 PM IST
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Fourteen coaches of the Indore-Patna express train jumped the tracks at about 3 am on Sunday near Pukhraya -- about 60 kilometres from the industrial city of Kanpur -- in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Photograph:(AFP)

The death toll from the train accident in Pukhraya near Kanpur, India has gone up to 145, authorities said on Monday.

More than 200 people are injured, 76 of them critically. It is feared that the death toll from one of India's worst train disasters may go up even further. 

Rescue operations were wrapped up today.

Fourteen coaches of the Indore-Patna express train ran off the tracks at about 3 am on Sunday near Pukhraya -- about 60 kilometres from the industrial city of Kanpur -- in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. 

Most passengers were asleep at the time. 

Two of the train's coaches -- S1 and S2 -- "telescoped" into each other; most of the casualties are thought to have occurred in these two compartments, PTI reported. 

TV footage showed mangled blue carriages, with crowds of people and police on top of the wreckage searching for survivors. 

The S3 and S4 coaches also suffered severe damage. 

Minister of state for the railways, Manoj Sinha, told reporters that the cause of the accident appeared to be a "rail fracture".

Rescue operations were carried out through the night. 90 rescue personnel and a 50-member medical team, with five doctors in it, were deployed.

Kanpur army station commander Brig B M Sharma had told WION, "We have plans to work through the night. Our lights are up. Though the railway cranes are working, we have got our armoured recovery vehicle here to speed up the operation. The challenge now is to get to the other side."

"We will try and retrieve every individual," he added.

Railway personnel, the army, National Disaster Response Force and state police had carried out rescue operations through the day yesterday. 

Nearby villagers setting up temporary kitchens and tents for survivors and officials, Reuters reported. The villagers were the first to get to the accident site, and began rescue operation before anybody else was able to get there. 

India's railways minister Suresh Prabhu ordered an enquiry yesterday and promised accountability with the "strictest possible action".

Later in the day, he too said a broken track may have caused the accident.

Survivors told of their desperate search for loved ones in the wreckage of the train, which was carrying at least one wedding party.

Bride-to-be Ruby Gupta, who survived the accident with a fractured arm, was searching desperately for her father. "I have been looking everywhere for him," she told PTI.

Another survivor, Rajdeep Tanwar, told Reuters, "I can see bodies lying near the tracks, everyone is in a state of shock. There is no water or food for us."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter that he was "anguished beyond words" and that he has spoken to Prabhu, "who is personally monitoring the situation closely".