The victims were watching the burning of Ravan's effigy near the railway tracks
New Delhi, Amritsar: At least 60 people celebrating Dussehra were killed after a train ran over hundreds standing on a railway track in Amritsar on Friday evening. As Ravan's effigy - located very close to the tracks at Jaura Phatak - 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.
Following are the top 10 developments in this big story:
- The accident took place at Dhobi Ghat near Jaura Phatak at 6:45 pm. The train was travelling from Jalandhar to Amritsar.
- "There are more than 50 casualties. We are evacuating people, injured taken to the hospital", said SS Shrivastava, Commissioner of Police, Amritsar.
- Witnesses said the dead included children. There were reportedly around 300 people at the accident spot, according to news agency IANS. At least 72 people have been injured.
- An eyewitness said no alarm was raised when the train was approaching and blamed the administration. "The administration and the Dussehra committee are at fault... they should have made sure that the train halts or slows down," the eyewitness told ANI.
- "Several times we have been requesting the authorities and local leaders telling them to take up the issue with railway authorities to slow down the trains near this Phatak during Dussehra, but no one has listened," a local said.
- 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 has said he is rushing to Amritsar to personally supervise relief and rescue efforts. 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. District authorities have been mobilised on war footing," 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