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Rescue effort ends for Indian train crash

Associated Press / July 12, 2011

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FATEHPUR, India - Railway workers yesterday began clearing the mangled wreckage of a derailed passenger train in northern India after ending a rescue operation that found 68 bodies.

Throughout the day, anxious relatives searching for missing family members had thronged to the site of Sunday’s crash, where bodies wrapped in white shrouds lay in rows on the ground next to the train.

By late yesterday afternoon, rescue teams had finished searching the twisted coaches for victims and survivors and work to remove the wreckage had begun amid pouring rain.

At least 239 passengers were injured when the Kalka Mail jumped the tracks near Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh state, said Brij Lal, a senior state police official.

The main government-run hospital in Fatehpur was overrun by relatives searching for their kin among the injured and the dead.

Lal said the dead included two Swedish citizens. Another Swedish passenger was injured.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the crash, said H.C. Joshi, a senior railway official. Newspapers reported that the driver had slammed on the emergency brakes because cattle were on the tracks in front of the speeding train.

Volunteers and army soldiers worked through the night to pull the injured from the train’s 12 shattered coaches. Officials said the train was carrying about 1,000 passengers, but the exact number was not known.

By yesterday evening, 46 bodies had been identified and 19 of those had been handed over to family members, Lal said, adding that at least 19 bodies were yet to be identified.

The train was headed to Kalka, in the foothills of the Himalayas, from Howrah, a station near Kolkata in eastern India.

Train services across northern India have been disrupted. At least 62 trains were diverted to other routes and many others have been canceled, said S. Mathur, a railway official.

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