This is not the first fatal railway accident in India this year
Two passenger trains derailed off a bridge and into a river in central India late Tuesday night, leaving scores injured and at least 19 dead, Indian news outlets are reporting.
Shortly before midnight local time, a number of coaches of the Kamayani Express, en route from Mumbai to Varanasi, separated from the tracks and fell into the Machak River, near the town of Harda in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Minutes later, the Janata Express, heading in the opposite direction, derailed at the same location.
NDTV, an Indian broadcasting network, reports that railway officials are blaming the recent heavy rains of the monsoon season, which may have caused the track to cave in. Some officials have speculated that high river levels — possibly caused by a nearby dam burst — washed onto the tracks, though this has not yet been confirmed.
Hundreds of passengers have thus far been rescued, but Kiren Rijiju, India’s Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, tells the Times of India that the number of casualties is “likely to be high.”
Adverse weather conditions had cleared up by dawn, permitting joint state forces to engage in a full rescue operation.
This is not the first fatal train incident in the country this year. A number of public figures have spoken out against what they deem the unsatisfactory safety conditions of India’s railway system, one of the most heavily trafficked in the world.
“I don’t consider it as an accident,” Dinesh Trivedi, who served as the country’s Minister of Railways between July 2011 and March 2012, said, according to Asian News International. “Accident [sic] is something which can’t be avoided. This could’ve been avoided.”