At least 120 people have been killed and more than 200 injured after a passenger train derailed in northern India.
Fourteen carriages of the Indore-Patna Express train came off the tracks in a remote area near Pukhrayan, Kanpur at around 3:10am local time.
Television footage showed rescue workers using gas-powered cutting equipment to free trapped survivors and bodies from the overturned coaches and cranes were deployed to lift coaches from the tracks.
Some of the coaches had crumpled during the crash, trapping hundreds of people inside.
Daljeet Chaudhary, a director-general of police, said: "There are people trapped inside. We are being very careful in using the gas cutters."
He said the death toll would more than likely rise as rescue workers have not yet managed to gain access to the most damaged coaches.
Medical teams provided first aid near the site of the crash, while those seriously injured were taken to hospitals near Kanpur.
"We have been able to pull out 24 people so far, out of which five were found to be alive," said Brigadier A Chhibbar, who is leading the army's rescue operations.
"We will carry on day and night, till there is any inkling of even a single person being pulled alive."
Passenger Satish Kumar said the train was travelling at normal speed before stopping suddenly: "It restarted, and then we heard a crash. When we came out of the train, we saw a few coaches had derailed.”
"We woke up to a great thud this morning. It was pitch dark and the noise was deafening," one passenger told reporters at the scene.
According to local news site NDTV the train had been full of families, some of them travelling home for weddings.
Twenty-year-old Ruby Gupta had been travelling on the train for her wedding on 1 December. She reportedly fractured her arm in the crash and her father is still missing.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his concern about the incident over twitter.
“Anguished beyond words on the loss of lives due to the derailing of the Patna-Indore express. My thoughts are with the bereaved families."
The Government minister for railways Suresh Prabhu said he was “rushing to the accident site to personally monitor the situation”.
In a tweet he said the government would investigate what caused the derailment and announced compensation for the victims.
Kanpur is a major railway junction and hundreds of trains pass through it every day. Several trains using the line have been diverted to other routes, according to a spokesman for Indian Railways.
Accidents are relatively common on India's rail network, which is one of the world's largest – providing transport for around 23 million passengers each day – but lacks modern signalling and communication systems.
Sunday's train crash is the worst disaster since 2010, when a passenger train crashed into a freight train in the eastern state of West Bengal, killing 146 and injuring more than 200.
Additional reporting by agenciesReuse content