A rail crash in eastern India killed more than 200 people, officials said, in one of the country’s deadliest rail accidents in decades.
At least 233 people were killed and 900 injured in a multi-train collision in Odisha state on Friday night, according to State Secretary Pradeep Jena.
The Coromandel Express, en route from Kolkata to Chennai in southern India, collided with a derailed train traveling from Bengaluru to Kolkata. Local media reported that a stationary freight train was also involved in the collision.
TV footage showed train cars scattered on the rails, some stacked on top of each other. Witnesses reported seeing the bodies of dead and mutilated victims all over the grounds.
“When I got off the train, I saw limbs scattered everywhere, a leg here, a hand there,” a survivor told broadcaster NDTV.
A rescue operation was underway on Saturday morning as workers continued to search for passengers trapped in the crumpled carriages. Officials did not immediately say what caused the collision, which took place near the town of Balasore, and said they were investigating.
Friday’s accident was the deadliest since 1999, when a train crash in the state of West Bengal killed 285 people.
“There was a deafening noise, and then our train backed up and stopped with a huge jerk,” said Vidhan Jena, a passenger on one of the trains, according to the Times of India. “I was shocked to see bodies lying here and there. It was a horrible sight.”
India’s rail network is one of the largest in the world and is vital to national passenger and freight transport.
But the aging system suffers from chronic underinvestment and a series of tragic and fatal accidents have occurred. In 2016, a train derailed in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, killing more than 150 people.
Indian Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw wrote on Twitter on Friday night that he “hurried to the construction site in Odisha”.
He added that rescue teams from several states were deployed along with the country’s air force. “Will take all hands necessary for the rescue operations,” he said.
“In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved. May the injured recover quickly,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter.