More than 50 people were run over by a speeding train in India’s northern state of Punjab on Friday, police said.
A large number of people were watching the fireworks during the Hindu religious festival of Dussehra near the railway tracks in Amritsar city when the tragedy took place.
“The exact figure is not yet known, but it is definitely more than 50 to 60,” Amritsar Police Commissioner, SS Srivastava, said.
“We do not know the circumstances, but many people were crushed by the train.’’
Regional Railways Chief, Vishweshwar Chaubey, said many people were standing on the railway tracks, watching the fireworks and the burning of the demon king Ravana when the train crushed them.
Many people, who were mowed down could not hear the approaching train due to the exploding crackers, he added.
The victims included several children. There were reportedly around 700 people at the accident spot, the IANS news agency reported.
Srivastava said efforts were on to evacuate people for medical care, and at least 60 people were reportedly taken to hospital.
Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, said relief and rescue operations were ongoing at the site on a “war footing.”
The accident raises questions of negligence by the railways and the administration as to how the celebrations were happening so close to the tracks and why no barriers were put up to prevent people from getting onto the tracks.
Indian leaders including President Ram Kovind expressed their condolences at the deaths.
“The tragedy is heart-wrenching. My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly.
“I have asked officials to provide immediate assistance that is required,” Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, wrote on Twitter.
Accidents are common on India’s railway network, which is among the biggest in the world.
Many of the accidents are reported from unmanned railway crossings.