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At Least 24 Killed, 300 Rescued After Trains Derail in India Flash Flood

Two passenger trains derailed minutes apart on flooded tracks on a bridge in central India, killing at least 24 people while more than 300 have been rescued, officials said Wednesday.

The Kamayani Express was on its way to Mumbai when it derailed late Tuesday night near the town of Harda in Madhya Pradesh state, while the Janata Express was traveling in the opposite direction when it derailed soon after.

The trains were crossing a small bridge near the rain-swollen Machak River, about 590 miles south of New Delhi. Another train had passed the same culvert 10 minutes before the first derailment without any problem, but then a flash flood caused part of the track to sink into the rain-soaked ground, said A.K. Mittal, a senior railway officer.

Six coaches from the Kamayani Express and the engine and four coaches from the Janata Express derailed.

The accident occurred just before midnight, and although rescue workers soon reached the site, they were slowed by darkness.

At least two coaches were partially submerged in the mud, said railway official Anil Saksena. While most people had been pulled to safety, rescue workers were still searching for passengers likely trapped.

Heavy monsoon rains have killed more than 100 people in western and eastern India in the past week, flooding rivers and fields, and forcing tens of thousands to take shelter in state-run relief camps.