Several dozen dead after train runs over crowd in India during religious celebration

The crowd in Amritsar was watching the burning of an effigy of demon Ravana near the tracks when the train went roaring by.
Image: Train accident kills 50 in Amritsar
An Indian man cries near the body of his brother on a railway track after a train accident in Amritsar, India, on Oct. 18, 2018.Raminder Pal Singh / EPA

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By Associated Press

NEW DELHI — A speeding train ran over a crowd watching fireworks during a religious festival in northern India on Friday, killing at least 50 people, a Congress party leader said.

The victims crowded the rail track on the outskirts of Amritsar, a city in Punjab state. They didn't see the train coming, which failed to stop after the accident, said the politician, Pratap Singh Bajwa.

Amrinder Singh, the state's top elected official, told reporters that he had reports of 50 to 60 people dead. Thirty bodies had been removed from the site by Friday as relief work was being hampered by nightfall.

A couple looks for their missing son on the tracks after a train accident in Amritsar, India, on Oct. 19, 2018.Raminder Pal Singh / EPA

An eyewitness said the train didn't even whistle as it sped past the site, where hundreds were busy watching the burning of an effigy of demon Ravana during the Hindu festival of Dussehra.

"Why did authorities allow the fireworks display so close to the railroad track,'" he asked on TV. He told the Republic television channel that he lost two brothers.

Police took several injured to nearby hospitals.

Following the accident, a large number of people rushed to the site and shouted at railway officials for not taking precautions in view of the festival.

While accidents are relatively common on India's sprawling rail network, Friday's was among the deadliest in recent years.

In 2016, 146 people were killed when a train slid off railroad tracks in eastern India.