At least 107 killed as India train derails

Jitendra Prakash and Rupam Jain
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At least 60 killed as Indian train derails

At least 60 people are dead and more than 100 injured after a train derailed in northern India.

At least 107 people are dead and more than 150 injured after an Indian express train derailed in northern Uttar Pradesh, with the toll set to rise amid a scramble to locate survivors in the wreckage.

Police officials said people were still missing as authorities were trying to ascertain what caused 14 carriages of the train travelling between the northeastern city of Patna and the central city of Indore to suddenly roll off the tracks in Pukhrayan, 65 km south of Kanpur city on Sunday.

Authorities said they were checking what condition the tracks had been in but added they would need to look further before concluding the cause of the derailment.

Desperate survivors were looking for family members and some were trying to enter the damaged carriages to rescue relatives and collect belongings, said senior railway official Pratap Rai.

With the death toll set to rise, the derailment could become India's worst rail tragedy since 2005, when a train was crushed by rocks and another plunged into a river - each killing more than 100 people.

India's creaking railway system is the world's fourth largest. The federal government runs 11,000 trains a day, including 7000 passenger trains that ferry more than 20 million people, but it has a poor safety record, with thousands of people dying in accidents every year, including in frequent train derailment and collisions.

The packed train, operated by the government, derailed in the early hours of Sunday when more than 500 passengers were sleeping, survivors said.

TV footage showed mangled blue carriages, with crowds of people and police on top of the wreckage searching for survivors. One carriage was almost lying on its side, and appeared to have been completely torn apart.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who started out selling tea outside a train station, has promised to modernise India's railways and build high-speed engines befitting Asia's third-largest economy.

On Sunday Modi took to Twitter to express his condolences.

"Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families," Modi said.