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Asia-pacific

At least 15 dead, 200 injured after passenger train derails

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Latest update : 2009-02-14

At least 15 people were killed and 200 injured in eastern India when 12 carriages of a passenger train derailed en route from Kolkata to Madras, a railway spokesman said, trapping many travellers in the damaged cabins.

AFP - Rescuers searched through the wreckage of smashed carriages Saturday after a train derailed in eastern India, leaving 16 people dead and almost 200 injured, rail officials said.
   
The high-speed Coromandel Express, connecting the eastern metropolis of Kolkata and the southern city of Chennai, derailed Friday night while changing tracks at Jajpur, 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Orissa's state capital Bhubaneswar.
   
"Its tragic. 16 passengers have died, while close to 200 got injured," Ajay Kumar Goel, general manager of Eastern Railways, told AFP.
   
Witnesses said 12 carriages had jumped the tracks while travelling at high speed.
   
"The train had acquired speed and minutes later it crossed the station and just toppled," said Hemant Bhalotia, whose 70-year-old father died.
   
The accident came on a day when federal railways minister Lalu Yadav took credit for turning round the giant state-run transport network, which was once headed for bankruptcy.
   
The Press Trust of India news agency reported that Yadav has ordered an inquiry into the accident as well as compensation for families of the dead and those injured.
   
On Friday he boasted that the number of train accidents had decreased significantly during his tenure as minister, from 325 in 2003-4 to 194 in 2007-8.
   
The railway system -- still the main form of long-distance travel in India despite fierce competition from new private airlines -- runs 14,000 passenger and freight trains and carries 18.5 million people daily.

Date created : 2009-02-14

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