NEW DELHI: Twenty seven people have been killed after two packed trains derailed while crossing a bridge hit by floods in central India overnight Wednesday, authorities said, highlighting again safety problems with India’s crumbling railway network.
At least 27 bodies have been recovered so far and one person was seriously injured, said Bijendra Kumar, a railway official in Bhopal, the main city in Madhya Pradesh state.
Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju said more than 300 people have been rescued.
Rescuers had been searching in darkness for passengers feared trapped on the trains that were travelling in opposite directions when some of their carriages derailed in Madhya Pradesh state, officials said.
West Central Railway spokesman Piyush Mathur said the trains derailed within minutes of each other near the town of Harda at about 11:30 pm on Tuesday.
One of the trains travelling from the financial city of Mumbai appeared to have been hit by a sudden surge of water on the swollen Machak river, derailing the last four to five carriages, railway ministry spokesman Anil Saxena said.
The other passenger train, travelling to Mumbai from the eastern city of Patna, was also hit by water, with the engine and the first two to three carriages derailing, he said.
“There is some suggestion of flash floods on the tracks that caved the tracks. Most of the coaches had passed but the last few carriages were derailed,” Saxena told the network of the first train.
Monsoon rains have hit large swathes of the country in recent weeks, flooding rivers and roads and claiming some 180 lives in mainly western and eastern India.