Train kills at least 30 Dussehra revellers in Amritsar

Saul Bowman
October 20, 2018

Although police personnel were deployed to avoid any untoward incident, they said to have failed to control the crowds who were gathered to see Rahana Dehan.

Neither the organisers nor the police administration had barricaded the tracks to stop people from venturing onto them, preliminary investigations have revealed. One account said two trains arrived from the opposite direction at the same time giving little opportunity to people to escape.

The tragedy took place at the Joda Fatak area of Amritsar, where crowds - some reports say 300, others 1,000 - had gathered to watch the fireworks.

"Rushing to Amritsar to personally supervise relief and rescue in tragic rail accident on Dussehra in Amritsar".

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who was in the United States, tweeted that he was cancelling all his engagements and heading home.

"As per initial information, people present near the railway track couldn't hear the sound of the approaching train due bursting crackers", Mr Sinha told reporters in Delhi before boarding an Indian Air Force plane for Amritsar. Singh himself will visit Amritsar on Saturday. The death toll, according to local officials, could rise drastically.

"There are more than 50 dead".

"However, railways' entire machinery is at the spot and we are cooperating with local administration is rescue and relief operations", the official added. In a tweet, Mr Singh said, the Centre is ready to provide all possible assistance to the state at this hour of grief.

Navjot Kaur Siddhu, a local Congress party politician who was the chief guest at the religious function, said the celebrations take place in the area every year and railroad authorities are alerted to run the trains at slow speeds.

Several people also got injured in the incident and have been rushed to the hospital for treatment. Former CM Prakash Singh Badal demanded an inquiry by a sitting judge of the Punjab and Harayana High Court into the entire sequence of events leading to the accident to fix responsibility for the grave human tragedy. While some trains are being diverted, many are stationed near Jalandhar, he said.

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