Many Announcements Were Made Before Amritsar Accident: Navjot Kaur

The body of a victim of a train accident lies covered in cloth on a railway track in Amritsar India Friday Oct. 19

The victims were standing on the railway tracks watching celebrations for the Hindu festival of Dusshera, eyewitnesses told BBC Punjabi.

Punjab State's Chief Minister Amarinder Singh told reporters on Saturday that 59 people had died with 57 injured in the accident and that an official inquiry would be carried out over the next four weeks.

Railway police said that the death toll had risen to 60.

Sub Divisional Magistrate Amritsar I Rajesh Sharma said 50 bodies have been found and at least 50 injured have been admitted to a government hospital.

The district administration said 40 of the dead have been identified while the process of identifying the others was underway. The casualties were caused by one of the trains.

Railway authorities said they had no information about the event and the driver had no time to stop the train as people suddenly entered the tracks.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to say he was extremely saddened by the "heart-wrenching tragedy" and urged officials to provide immediate assistance to the injured and the victims' families.

Police officials said that the spectators attending the festival could not hear the train approaching because of the loud explosions from the effigy and were subsequently run over by the train.

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The body of a victim of Friday's train accident is carried in for cremation in Amritsar, India, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018.

Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani said the railways was not informed about the gathering of people.

Amrit Singh, the director of the railway station at Amritsar, said a commuter train travelling at 90 km/h would travel for 700m after the brakes are applied before stopping.

Navjot Kaur Siddhu, a local Congress party politician who was the chief guest at the festival, said the celebrations take place in the same area every year and that the railways are warned to run trains at slow speeds.

"We weren't kept in the loop and we provided no permission for the event", he said.

Shatrughan Das, an injured 35-year-old factory worker, said he was sitting close to the railroad track watching the fireworks. "I fell unconscious. I saw the police taking me to a hospital as I regained consciousness".

India's state railways, largely built during colonial rule, have a poor safety record after decades of underinvestment in rail safety infrastructure, as the priority has remained more on keeping fares low for the 23 million passengers who use the network daily.

Outrage and sadness poured out as video clips surfaced of the gut wrenching moment when the train rams into the crowd - nearly at the exact moment when the Ravana effigy erupts into a huge ball of flame in the distance, just across the tracks.

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