Death toll rises to 39 after train derails in India

At least 35 people have been killed in a passenger train derailment in southern India, with many more injured.
Rescue workers looking for survivors yesterday at the site of the train crash in India's southern Andhra Pradesh state. The train was travelling from the city of Jagdalpur to Bhubaneswar on Saturday night when it derailed, and officials are investiga
Rescue workers looking for survivors yesterday at the site of the train crash in India's southern Andhra Pradesh state. The train was travelling from the city of Jagdalpur to Bhubaneswar on Saturday night when it derailed, and officials are investigating possible track tampering by Maoist rebels active in the area.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW DELHI • Rescuers yesterday battled to pull survivors from the wreckage of a train crash that killed at least 39 passengers in southern India, the latest in a series of disasters to hit the country's creaking rail network.

Officials were investigating whether Maoist rebels had tampered with the track, after eight coaches and the engine of the Jagdalpur- Bhubaneswar Express were derailed last Saturday night.

The accident happened near the Kuneru railway station in the remote district of Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh state.

A railway official, Mr J.P. Mishra, earlier said about 50 injured people had been moved to nearby hospitals. He told the NDTV news network there were some 600 people in the carriages that derailed.

The accident came only two months after nearly 150 people were killed in a similar disaster, highlighting the poor state of the rail network, which is one of the world's largest.

Mr Saxena said government officials and emergency workers worked through the night to find survivors, and investigators were considering possible sabotage of the tracks by Maoist rebels active in the area. He said: "There is some suspicion (of sabotage) because two other trains had crossed over smoothly using the same tracks earlier in the night."

The train was travelling from the city of Jagdalpur to Bhubaneswar when it came off the tracks nearly 160km from Visakhapatnam.

India's railway network is still the main form of long-distance travel in the vast country, but it is poorly funded and deadly accidents occur relatively frequently. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has pledged to invest US$137 billion (S$196 billion) over five years to modernise the crumbling railways, making them safer and faster.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2017, with the headline 'Death toll rises to 39 after train derails in India'. Print Edition | Subscribe