Train Accident in Amritsar Jaura Phatak During Ravan Dahan, 60 kills
Punjab CM Sets Up Crisis Management Group to Monitor Amritsar Relief & Rehab Efforts
State Mourning Declared on Saturday, Offices & Educational Institutes to Remain Closed
Amritsar, 19 October (Prince): In a terrible disaster, 60 people watching the burning of a Ravan effigy from a railway track were crushed to death by a speeding train here in Punjab on Friday, triggering anger in the area and nationwide outrage. Nearly 100 others were injured, many of them seriously.
A large number of people were watching a huge Ravan effigy in flames while standing on the tracks at a railway crossing at Jora Phatak when the train on way from Pathankot to Amritsar mowed them down, triggering anger and outrage. It was not clear why the train did not halt despite the presence of so many people on the tracks and why the railway crossing was left open for people to gather. Witnesses said that as fire was set to the Ravan effigy amid exploding crackers, many of the around 700 people gathered at the event moved back from the flames only to end up standing on the tracks.
“Out of nowhere came the train,” said a man, sounding angry. “Before anyone could realise what was happening, it ran over scores of people.”
“When the effigy started to burn in full flow, people began running away from it fearing it may fall over them,” said another man. “They did not realise that a speeding train was coming and the train did not sound its hooter.” Another man felt that the tragedy would have claimed at least 100 lives. The dead included several children, another witness said.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh cancelled a visit to Israel after hearing about the tragedy and area legislator and Local Bodies Minister Navjot Sidhu told a news channel from Bengaluru that the death toll was alarmingly high.His wife Navjot Kaur Singh was the Chief Guest at the event.
Following the train mishap, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed officials to take all possible measures to provide immediate assistance.
President, PM mourn Punjab train tragedy
“Heartfelt condolences to bereaved families,” Kovind tweeted after a speeding train ran over a large number of people who were witnessing a Ravan effigy in flames while standing on a railway track.
Modi termed the disaster “heart wrenching”.
“My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly. Have asked officials to provide immediate assistance that is required,” Modi said.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi asked the Punjab government and party workers to provide relief at the accident site.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said immediate relief and rescue operations were being carried out.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to the Punjab Home Secretary and the Director General of Police of Punjab. He said the Centre would provide all possible assistance to the state.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed grief.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed his pain over the loss of lives and urged his party workers to provide help at the accident site.
CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted: “Shocked… Responsibility and accountability must be fixed at the very top for such accidents.”
Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday night set up a Crisis Management Group to monitor the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the wake of the tragic train accident in Amritsar.
The Group is led by Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, with Revenue Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi as members. The team has rushed to the accident site to assess and tackle the situation.
A state mourning has been declared tomorrow, and all offices and educational institutions will remain closed in view of the tragedy, an official spokesperson said.
Relief and rehabilitation efforts have been mounted by the state government on a war footing, with all the necessary administrative and police personnel ordered the Chief Minister to be mobilised. The injured are undergoing emergency treatment in various government and private hospitals across Amritsar.
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