HYDERABAD — At least 25 people, including four children, were killed in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur district early yesterday when the Banglore-bound Hampi Express collided with a stationary goods train, police said.
The dozens of injured people were shifted to various hospitals as the rescue work continued at the accident site near Penukonda railway station, about 400 km from here.
"The number of deaths now is 25 and 45 are injured out of which some have minor injuries but 10 are grievously hurt," Railway Ministry spokeswoman Chandralekha Mukherjee said in New Delhi.
As many as 16 bodies, most of them charred beyond recognition, were recovered from the first coach, which caught fire due to electrical short-circuiting after the collision. Seven bodies were recovered from other damaged coaches, while two persons died from their injuries in a local hospital, police said.
The coach behind the engine was meant only for women but it is not possible to say if the bodies are women or men as they are charred, Charu Sinha, deputy inspector general of Andhra Pradesh police, said from the crash site.
"There are no more bodies in the wreckage as (rescue and salvage) operations are now over," she said by telephone.
A police statement said bodies were taken out after rescuers sliced through the crushed carriages with mechanical cutters and used cranes brought from Bangalore.
The train driver and his co-driver were among those killed in the accident that took place around 3.15 am. But PTI report says that the driver had survived the impact but was unconscious.
"It appears that the driver of the passenger train overshot a signal and hit the goods train, but we are awaiting the results of an inquiry," Mukherjee said.
Television footage from the scene showed mangled, upturned coaches with rescue workers carrying injured passengers out on stretchers by torchlight before dawn.
"When the train stopped with a loud bang, I got down to see burning passengers crying for help," Munijayendra, 25, told the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency.
"The worst part is we were helpless as the heat was just unbearable".
Rescuers and medical officials worked through the day, hacking through the twisted metal to get to those trapped inside the overturned carriages.
"Every life is precious. This is a very sad incident," Railway Minister Mukul Roy, who arrived at the site of the accident, told reporters.
He promised compensation for the injured and families of the dead.
The train left Hubli at 6 pm on Monday and was to reach Bangalore at 6 am. It originates in Karnataka and passes through parts of Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh before re-entering Karnataka.
Such was the impact of the collision that the first coach behind the engine caught fire, while three other coaches behind it were derailed. The women's and general compartments bore the brunt.