Indian town picks up pieces after train kills 60 people watching fireworks


Organizers erected a huge LED screen for the hundreds of people who gathered to watch the burning of the effigies of Ravana and other demons, said Yadav, who lives just a kilometer (half a mile) from the disaster site.

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

It also said that neither the area administration nor the organisers informed it about any Dussehra ceremony at the spot.

"Therefore granting permission from the Railway's does not arise", he added. "The event took place at a place adjoining the railway land in private property", he said.

Railways which pays compensation in most case of accidents at unmanned level crossings, in which the victims are "trespassers", has so far not offered any monetary aid to the families of those killed on Friday.

Mehrotra said people who were watching the effigy burn may have been confused "as there were two trains that crossed the point at the same time".

The train was coming from Punjab's Jalandhar city when the accident occurred at Joda Phatak near Amritsar, where at least 300 people were watching "Ravana dahan" at a ground adjacent to the tracks. "There was no notice given to the railways", he told reporters as he visited the site early on Saturday, surrounded by officials and police. Also, the gateman must inform the station master about any obstruction on the midsection.

Family members cry after seeing the body of their relative after a commuter train traveling at high speed ran through a crowd of people on the railway tracks on Friday, outside a hospital in Amritsar, India, October 20, 2018. Most victims hailed from UP and Bihar.

In 2016, 146 people were killed when a train slid off railroad tracks in eastern India.

He said the inquiry ordered into the incident by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was a "mere eyewash".

According to police, a few people angry over the accident attacked their residence, broke window panes and pelted stones on Saturday. "My thoughts are with the families of the deceased and prayers with the injured", Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted.

An eyewitness alleged the train driver didn't blow the horn, while another woman cried inconsolably as she had lost her son.

Fifty bodies had already been found and at least 50 injured were admitted to a government-run hospital, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Rajesh Sharma, a magistrate, as saying.

He alleged that Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur was exclusively answerable for the accident as she was the chief guest at the Dussehra function and responsible for holding such a big event sans security and safety measures.