LUCKNOW, India (AP) — An express train plowed into a parked freight train in northern India on Monday, killing at least 40 people and reducing cars to heaps of torn and twisted metal, officials said.
The Gorakhpur Express passenger train was traveling at high speed and slammed on its brakes in an attempt to stop, but hit the train sitting on the tracks near a railway station in Uttar Pradesh state, district magistrate Bharat Lal said.
Six of the cars on the express train derailed, with one car with unreserved seating taking the brunt of the impact and accounting for most of the 40 deaths so far counted, senior police officer Amrendra Sainger said.
"It has been reduced to a mangled iron mesh," he said. "We do not know how many people were there." While the car seats 72, such trains are often filled beyond capacity.
Authorities were searching for the station master, who disappeared after the accident in Sant Kabir Nagar, about 220 kilometers (140 miles) southeast of the state capital, Lucknow. But authorities said it was too early to say what had gone wrong and were investigating everything from mechanical failure to human error.
Villagers were the first to reach the scene after the accident about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the nearest road. Indian TV broadcast images of them assisting the injured amid piles of strewn luggage.
"I was working in the field when I heard the whistle of the engine, and suddenly I heard the sound of a crash. It was a terrible sound . it still reverberates in my ears," villager Ram Chander Chaudhry told news channel Samachar Plus. "Within minutes I reached there and saw the train had been derailed."
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