UPDATES DEATH TOLL, ADDS BACKGROUND, EDITS THROUGHOUT
By Shuriah Niazi
NEW DELHI (AA) – At least 39 people were killed and around 100 injured after a train derailed late Saturday in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, a railway official said Sunday.
Seven coaches and an engine of the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneshwar Hirakhand express train derailed near Kuneru station in Vizianagaram district of the state, killing 39 people, J. P. Mishra, a spokesman for East Coast Railway said.
He had earlier put the death toll at 36, saying 19 bodies had been identified so far.
“The death toll could rise further as many people are still trapped in the wreckage,” he added.
The exact cause of the train derailment is yet to be known.
The injured have been admitted to nearby hospitals.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences for those killed in the train derailment.
“My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones due to the derailment of Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Express. The tragedy is saddening,” Modi said in a tweet.
In the wake of the deadly accident, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has announced a compensation of around $3000 for the kin of deceased persons, $360 for the injured and $720 for the seriously injured.
Train accidents are common in India where more than 22 million passengers use the rail system daily. Over 250 people were killed across the country in 2015 and 2016 alone.
The government had pledged in 2014 an investment of $137 billion over five years to modernize and expand one of the world’s largest railway networks.
India’s worst train disasters in recent times:
November 20, 2016: At least 150 people were killed and more than 200 injured when 14 coaches of Indore-Rajendra Nagar Express derailed in Pukhrayan in Uttar Pradesh state.
March 20, 2015: At least 58 people lost their lives when Dehradun-Varanasi Janta Express derailed at Bachhrawan railway station in Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh.
August 4, 2015: At least 30 people died in central India when two trains derailed over a railway bridge in Harda in Madhya Pradesh, and plunged into the swollen Machak River.
May 26, 2014: 25 people were killed when Gorakhpur-bound Gorakhdham Express train crashed into a stationary goods train near Khalilabad station in Uttar Pradesh.
July 23, 2014: At least 16 students along with the bus driver were killed in Medak district of Telangana at an unmanned railway crossing when a school bus was hit by a passenger train.