- Associated Press - Monday, September 20, 2010

NEW DELHI (AP) — A freight train on the wrong track slammed into a stationary passenger locomotive at a railroad station amid heavy rain early Monday in central India, killing at least 21 people and injuring 53, officials said.

The death toll could rise as the debris of two damaged coaches were being cleared, rail official R.S. Yadav said.

The crash happened at the Bhaderwah rail station, 235 miles south of the Indian capital, New Delhi.

The freight train was on a wrong track and hit the passenger train head-on, Mr. Yadav told the Associated Press.

At least 53 passengers were injured, 18 of them seriously, said Daulat Singh Meena, a railroad official.

The Press Trust of India news agency quoted unnamed officials as saying the driver of the freight train overshot the red signal to stop, causing the accident. That report could not be immediately confirmed.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered an inquiry into the collision.

Accidents are common on India‘s sprawling rail network, one of the world’s largest, which lacks in modern signaling and communication systems. Most crashes are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.

In July, 63 people were killed after a train smashed into another locomotive at a rail station in West Bengal state.

A passenger train derailed and was hit by a cargo train in May, killing 145 people in West Bengal state. Authorities blamed sabotage by Maoist rebels for that crash.

 

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