Amritsar train accident: People watching Dussehra celebrations in Amritsar were run over by a train
Amritsar: Sixty-one people celebrating Dussehra were killed after a train ran over hundreds standing on a railway track in Amritsar on Friday evening. The tracks at Jaura Phatak were on higher ground, which gave a better view of the burning effigy of Ravan. As it was lit and fireworks went off, a section of the crowd retreated towards the tracks, where a large number of people were already standing to watch the celebrations. The people who were hit could not see or hear the train due to the exploding crackers. An angry crowd shouted slogans against local legislator Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was present as chief guest during the event. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered an inquiry into the accident.
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- The accident took place at Dhobi Ghat near Jaura Phatak at 6:45 pm. The train was travelling from Jalandhar to Amritsar. The railway crossing gates were closed and the crossing was manned.
- Doctors at Civil Hospital and Guru Nanak Hospital said 39 bodies have been identified. It will take time to identify more bodies as they have been cut into pieces by the metal wheels of the fast-moving train, they said.
- Witnesses said the dead included children. There were around 300 people at the accident spot. At least 113 people have been injured; 13 of them are critical.
- An eyewitness said no alarm was raised when the train was approaching and blamed the administration. The train driver, who has been detained by the police, said he got the all-clear signal and had no idea that hundreds of people were standing on the tracks when the train crossed the area, news agency IANS reported.
- Ashwani Lohani, chairman of the Railway Board, visited the accident site. He said the railways was not at fault for the Amritsar train tragedy. A First Information Report or FIR has been filed.
- The Dussehra event was organised by Saurabh Mithu Madaan, the son of a Congress municipal corporator. Dussehra celebrations were not held at this spot last year.
- Navjot Kaur Sidhu said she got to know about the incident after reaching home. "I went back home after burning the Ravan and then I got to know that there was chaos and a train came at full speed. I called the commissioner and I asked him whether I should come back, he said no there's too much chaos here," she told ANI from the hospital where the injured are being treated.
- Chief Minister Amarinder Singh visited Guru Nanak Hospital and met with the injured people. He has asked all government and private hospitals to stay open. "My government will give Rs 5 lakh to kin of each deceased and free treatment to injured in government and private hospitals," he tweeted.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh have also promised all possible assistance. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said the Railways is conducting immediate relief and rescue operations. Mr Goyal, who is in the US, also said he is returning to India.
- A Northern Railways official said the effigy was being burnt less than 100 metres from the railway tracks. "Ravan effigy was being burnt 70-80 m from the gate, when the effigy fell, people present there ran towards the railway track, at the time a train was passing and level crossing there was shut," the official said.
Railways helpline numbers: 0183-2223171, 0183-2564485
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