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Festival turns tragic in India as train mows down 50 people

20 Oct 2018, 01:43 ( 10 Months ago) | updated: 20 Oct 2018, 01:50 ( 10 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
A man injured in the train accident is treated at a hospital near Amritsar, northern state of Punjab, India, on Oct. 19, 2018. Photo Xinhua.

The festival of Dussehra turned tragic in India's northern city of Amritsar on Friday as a passenger train mowed down at least 50 people, and injured many others, who were among the revelers to witness festivities.

   Amritsar is a city in the northern state of Punjab.

   A large number of people, at least 700, had gathered to watch the festival as the effigy of Ravana was put to flames near Joda Phatak railway crossing, as a mark of festivities.

   When the effigy caught fire and crackers started bursting, the revelers ran helter-skelter in a near-stampede like situation without realizing the train approaching at a high speed.

   The smoke from the crackers and the burning effigy had brought down visibility as well, reported the "India Today" TV channel.

   Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the deaths in the train tragedy. He offered immediate assistance to the accident spot.

   "Extremely saddened by the train accident in Amritsar. The tragedy is heart-wrenching. My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly. Have asked officials to provide immediate assistance that is required," tweeted Modi.

   State Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who is currently on an official trip to Israel, said he had cut short his visit, and will return to Amritsar by Saturday.

   "Rushing to Amritsar to personally supervise relief and rescue in tragic rail accident on Dussehra in Amritsar. My government will give Rs 500,000 (6,809 U.S. dollars) to kin of each deceased and free treatment to injured in government and private hospitals. District authorities have been mobilised on war footing," tweeted the chief minister.

   Meanwhile, according to sources in the ministry of railways, junior minister of railways Manoj Sinha has already rushed to the mishap spot along with senior railway officials to take stock of the situation.

   According to media reports, the Ravana was put to flames only around 70-80 meters away from the railway tracks.