- Associated Press - Sunday, July 10, 2011

FATEHPUR, India (AP) — Rescue workers used blowtorches to cut through the mangled wreckage of a derailed passenger train in northern India on Monday, as the recovery of more bodies brought the death toll to 67.

Bodies wrapped in white shrouds lay in rows on the ground next to the train, while anxious relatives thronged to the site of Sunday’s accident to search for their missing family members.

The death toll was expected to climb as teams cut deeper into the twisted coaches, said Col. Amarjit Dhillon, a senior army official in charge of rescue operations.

More than 100 passengers were injured when the Kalka Mail jumped the tracks near the town of Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh state.

“I was listening to music on the upper berth when there was a loud bang followed by a thud. I was flung from my seat and hit my head against the side of the coach,” passenger Subajit Ghosh, 20, said at a hospital in Fatehpur, his head swathed in bandages.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but newspaper reports said the driver slammed on the train’s emergency brakes when he saw cattle squatting on the tracks in front of the speeding train.

H.C. Joshi, a senior railway official, said authorities were investigating the cause.

Volunteers and soldiers worked through the night to pull many of the more than 100 injured from the train’s 12 shattered coaches. Officials said the train was carrying about 1,000 passengers, but the exact number was not known.

The main government-run hospital in Fatehpur was overrun by grieving relatives searching for their kin among the injured and the dead.

Some of the bodies were so badly disfigured from the impact of the derailment that authorities had managed to identify only four of the dead, state-run All India Radio said.

The train was on its way to Kalka, in the foothills of the Himalayas, from Howrah, a station near Kolkata in eastern India.

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles to the northeast, police said a militant group was suspected of triggering a bomb that led to the derailment of another train Sunday.

G. P. Singh, inspector-general of police, said the Adivasi Peoples’ Army was suspected of triggering the bomb in the remote state of Assam.

More than 50 passengers were injured when the train derailed in Rangiya, 31 miles west of Assam’s capital, Gauhati. The condition of four of them was critical, police said.

More than 30 groups in the northeast have been fighting for decades for independence or greater autonomy in the region, about 1,000 miles east of New Delhi.

The Adivasi Peoples’ Army is an offshoot of the United Liberation Front of Asom, or ULFA, which is fighting for an independent state for ethnic Assamese. ULFA is the largest militant group in the region.

No rebel group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Train services across northern India have been disrupted as railroad authorities work to clear the tracks. At least 62 trains had been diverted to other routes, and many others have been canceled, said S. Mathur, a railway official.

India‘s railroad network is one of the largest in the world and carries about 14 million passengers each day. Accidents are common, with most blamed on poor maintenance and human error.

Associated Press writers Biswajeet Banerjee in Lucknow and Wasbir Hussain in Gauhati contributed to this report.

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