300 die after Indian train hits cow

RANJAN ROY

Associated Press

New Delhi - At least 300 people died yesterday and 400 were reported injured when a passenger train near Firozabad, northern India, rammed another train that had stopped suddenly after hitting a cow.

Rescuers were finding bodies in the twisted debris of the carriages and expected the toll to rise further.

Nearly 20 hours after the accident, railway officials said more than 200 bodies were recovered, and hospitals said at least 60 people had died of their injuries, the Press Trust of India reported.

"The entire area was reverberating with cries and shrieks," said Manas Patnaik, who was travelling from the eastern state of Orissa to New Delhi. "I stumbled several times on severed limbs and some people - I don't know whether they were sleeping or dead."

The accident, outside Firozabad station, happened when a signalman sent the Purshottam Express on to a track without realising the Kalindi Express had stopped ahead, according to railway officials. Both trains were bound for New Delhi, 185 miles north of Firozabad.

The three rear carriages of the Kalindi Express and the locomotive and two carriages of the Purshottam Express crumpled like balls of paper, Press Trust said. Rescuers used cranes to lift the smashed carriages, which had telescoped.

Railway officials said that most of the 2,200 passengers aboard the two trains were sleeping when the collision occurred. The injured were admitted to hospitals in Firozabad and in the nearby towns of Tundla and Agra.

The Prime Minister, P V Narasimha Rao, expressed sorrow over the deaths and directed a senior minister to supervise rescue operations.

More than 100 people have been killed this year in six previous railway accidents in India, where trains are the most common form of transportation. Yesterday's death-toll surpassed the 270 people killed when a train plunged into a river in 1981.

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