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Over 50 feared dead as train runs them over during Dussehra celebrations

Over 50 feared dead as train runs them over during Dussehra celebrations

In a bad disaster, at least 30 people watching the burning of Ravan effigy were mowed down by speeding train here in Punjab on Friday, police said.

According to Raveen Thukral, media advisor to the chief minister, initial reports suggested the incident occurred during a stampede, as people rushed towards the tracks when crackers went off during "Ravana dahan".

An angry crowd shouts slogans beside the body of a victim of the train accident near Amritsar, India.

The Chief Minister of Punjab, Amarinder Singh has announced an ex gratia amount of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of deceased and free treatment to those injured in the mishap at government and private hospitals. "Railways is conducting immediate relief and rescue operations", Goyal tweeted from the USA, where he had gone to attend an event. "The priority now is to take the injured to the hospital", Amritsar city police commissioner S.S. Srivastava told reporters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reacted to the incident on Twitter.

"The people were sitting on and near the tracks on the outskirts of Amritsar watching the burning of effigies as part of the Dussehra festival when a commuter train ran over them", a police officer told Reuters.

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Several people were mowed down by one of the trains, they said.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal said Friday he was cancelling his trip to the U.S. and returning to India immediately. There were reportedly around 700 people at the accident spot. I pray for the injured to recover quickly. "District authorities have been mobilised on war footing", Singh tweeted.

"May god give strength to the bereaved families and wishing speedy recovery to those injured". Railways is proving all possible assistance at the site.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who is now in the USA, said he has cancelled all his engagements there and will be immediately returning to India.

Meanwhile, Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has said that it is an irreparable loss.


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