Six dead in latest India train accident

NEW DELHI (AFP) - A train crushed six people, including three children, to death in eastern India Thursday in the second accident this week to hit the nation's crumbling rail network, a police officer said.

The train ran over the pedestrians as they were crossing the tracks at a village in West Bengal, about 350km north of the state capital Kolkata.

"Six people were knocked down under the wheels of the express when they were crossing the track at about 7am (9.30am Singapore)," superintendent Prasun Bandopadhyay told AFP from the nearby town of Malda.

The accident comes as rescuers were still searching for bodies of passengers in central Madhya Pradesh state after two trains derailed in a flash flood just before midnight on Tuesday.

Local police chief Prem Babu Sharma said 29 bodies have so far been recovered from the carriages and surrounding flooded fields after the trains derailed while crossing a bridge.

Sharma said there were fears another 12 passengers may have been washed some distance from the site by the flash flood after families reported them missing in the tragedy.

"12 passengers are missing including seven children. We are searching the area," Sharma told AFP from the accident site.

Passengers have told of the more 10 derailed carriages filling with water after the small bridge was washed away by the surge of water from a rain-swollen river.

India's railway network, one of the world's largest, is still the main form of long-distance travel in the vast country, but it is poorly funded and deadly accidents are frequent.

The government has pledged to invest US$137 billion (S$189 billion) over five years to modernise the crumbling railways, to make them safer, faster and more efficient.