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Rescue work ends after Indian train wreck kills 68

Image: Rescue workers help to move a carriage lifted by crane from a passenger train which derailed near Fatehpur
Rescue workers help to move a carriage, lifted by crane, from a passenger train Monday which derailed near Fatehpur, about 50 miles southwest of Kanpur city, located in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.Jitendra Prakash / Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

Railway workers began clearing the mangled wreckage of a derailed passenger train in northern India after ending a rescue operation that found 68 bodies.

Throughout Monday, anxious relatives searching for missing family members thronged to the site of Sunday's crash as bodies wrapped in white shrouds lay in rows on the ground next to the train.

By late Monday afternoon, rescue teams had finished searching the twisted coaches for victims and survivors and the repair work had begun amid pouring rain.

At least 239 passengers were injured when the Kalka Mail jumped the tracks near Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh state, Brij Lal, a senior state police official said.

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

"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, his head swathed in bandages.

A derailed passenger train is seen off the track near Bhatkuchi, about 70 km (43 miles) west of Gauhati, India early Monday, July 11, 2011. At least fifty passengers were injured as four coaches of the Guwahati-Puri Express derailed following a possible explosion, local police and railway sources said. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)Anupam Nath / AP

Lal said the dead included two Swedish nationals. Another Swedish passenger was injured.

Linn Duvhammar, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Foreign Ministry, said that a Swedish man in his 20s had been taken to a hospital, but she was unable to confirm that any Swedes died.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the crash, said H.C. Joshi, a senior railway official. Newspapers reported the driver had slammed on the emergency brakes because cattle were on the tracks in front of the speeding train.

Volunteers and army soldiers worked through the night to pull the 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.

By Monday evening, 46 bodies had been identified and 19 of those had been handed over to family members, Lal said.

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

Train services across northern India were disrupted. At least 62 trains were diverted to other routes and many others were canceled, said S. Mathur, a railway official.

Accidents common
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.

Police say a militant group was suspected of triggering a bomb that derailed another train Sunday hundreds of miles (kilometers) to the northeast.

More than 50 passengers were injured, four critically, when that train derailed in Rangiya, 31 miles (50 kilometers) west of Assam's capital, Gauhati, police said.

The Adivasi People's Army was suspected of triggering the bomb in the remote state of Assam, said G. P. Singh, inspector-general of police. No militant group has claimed responsibility.

More than 30 groups in the northeast have been fighting for decades for independence or greater autonomy in the region, which is about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) east of New Delhi.

The Adivasi People's 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.


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