Punjab CM arrives in Amritsar over train tragedy

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Amritsar, Oct 20 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh arrived in Amritsar on Saturday, nearly 16 hours after at least 60 people were crushed to death by a train while watching the burning of a Ravana effigy here.

The Chief Minister, accompanied by Punjab Congress President and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar, arrived on a special flight from New Delhi.

He immediately held a meeting with senior officers of the district administrations, cabinet ministers and Congress legislators.

The officers briefed him about the whole tragedy and the number of deaths and injuries.

On Friday evening, a 700 strong crowd watching a huge Ravana effigy go up in flames amid exploding crackers spilled on to the tracks at Jora Phatak area when the Jalandhar-Amritsar Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) passenger train heading to Hoshiarpur from Amritsar came hurtling down at around 7 p.m.

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Most people reportedly could not hear the hooting of the train due to the exploding crackers.

In just 10-15 seconds it left behind a heap of crushed and dismembered bodies.

The Punjab government has declared state mourning on Saturday.

Following the accident, the railways cancelled 37 trains, diverted 16 trains, short terminated 12 trains and short originated six trains on the route

Railway authorities have said that the tragedy was not their responsibility as the organisers and local authorities had not informed them about the event being held so close to the railway tracks.

Senior railway officials said here that the presence of so many people, who were watching the function, on the railway tracks was a “trespass”.

The Chief Minister has ordered a probe into the incident.

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–IANS

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