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Train accident in India claims over 140 lives

Caritas is trying to ascertain how much help it can offer and what kind, especially in cases of medical emergency

Train accident in India claims over 140 lives

Onlookers stand at the site of a train accident near Pukhrayan in Kanpur district on Nov. 21, 2016. (Photo by AFP) 

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Caritas India is in touch with authorities to see how it can best provide help to victims and survivors following a train accident that killed over 140 people in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Some 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express crashed into each other as the train flew off the tracks Nov. 20 while passing through Pukhrayan village in the state's Kanpur district. Over 200 people were injured.

Caritias India is in touch with disaster management authorities to see how they can best provide help to victims and survivors.

Amrit Sangma, spokesperson of the social arm of the nation's Catholic Church, told that the agency is trying to ascertain how much help it can offer and what kind, especially in cases of medical emergency.

The army, police and national disaster response forces have been deployed to carry out rescue operations. Cranes and metal cutters are being used to free survivors and corpses from the debris. 

Hundreds of workers are taking part in the operations even as several coaches were hanging off the tracks. The train's first two carriages that crashed into each other were completely smashed. 

Survivors said the train was vibrating and jolting before finally derailing. After the accident, people from the nearby Pukhrayan village rushed to help.

The railway ministry has ordered an investigation into the incident but many have already concluded that cracked, old tracks were to blame.

Rajen Gohain, junior minister for railways, said that the incident happened despite safety measures being taken.

"There must be a fault in the track as 14 carriages derailed despite the tracks being regularly checked," he said.

However, the Indian Express newspaper reported that the main reason for the accident was the use of old and outdated carriages that should have been phased out but was never put into effect because of the railway ministry's bureaucracy. 

According to the The Times of India, 1,200 people were officially on board the train but that at least 500 more were travelling without a ticket or with a general ticket that the railways do not show as they have not been assigned a seat.

The railway ministry has announced a compensation package of 350,000 rupees (US$5,223) to the next of kin for each of the dead and 50,000 rupees (US$746) for the critically injured.

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