Rescue efforts end at fatal Indian train wreck

Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Rajesh Kumar Singh ~ Associated PressShabnam, 21, weeps Monday near the bodies of her mother and brother who died in a train accident in Fatehpur, India.

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

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

By late Monday afternoon, rescue teams had finished searching the twisted coaches for victims and survivors and the repair work had begun amid pouring rain.

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

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

"I was listening to music on the upper berth when there was a loud bang followed by a thud. I was flung from my seat and hit my head against the side of the coach," passenger Subajit Ghosh, 20, said at a hospital, his head swathed in bandages.

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

Linn Duvhammar, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Foreign Ministry, said that a Swedish man in his 20s had been taken to a hospital, but she was unable to confirm that any Swedes died.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the crash, said H.C. Joshi, a senior railway official. Newspapers reported 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 Monday evening, 46 bodies had been identified and 19 of those had been handed over to family members, Lal said.

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 were disrupted. At least 62 trains were diverted to other routes and many others were canceled, said S. Mathur, a railway official.

India's railroad network is one of the largest in the world and carries about 14 million passengers each day. Accidents are common, with most blamed on poor maintenance and human error.

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