At least 61 killed,72 injured in train accident near Amritsar; President & PM condole the deaths

At least 61 people were killed and 72 injured last evening in a major accident near Joda Phatak in Amritsar. According to official sources, the mishap occurred when a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of Ravana effigy was run over by a train. Sub Divisional Magistrate Rajesh Sharma said, the injured have been admitted to various hospitals.

Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and top railway officials have rushed to the spot. Talking to media this morning Mr. Sinha said;

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has announced all possible assistance by the Centre to Punjab.

Eyewitnesses said, it was a heart-rendering sight as the dismembered body parts laid strewn on the blood-soaked ground, and many were difficult to be identified.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered an inquiry into the incident and set up a crisis management group of his Cabinet colleagues. Relief and rehabilitation efforts have been mounted by the state government on a war footing, with all the necessary administrative and police personnel ordered by the Chief Minister to be mobilised.

A railway official said all services on Jalandhar-Amritsar route remained suspended after the accident. While some trains are being diverted, many are stationed near Jalandhar.

Chief Minister Singh has announced compensation of five lakh rupees each for the next of  kin of those killed and free treatment for the injured.He said:

The incident has sent shock waves across the country. There was an outpouring of grief with President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore and several other leaders condoling the loss of lives.

In a tweet message, Mr. Kovind said he was shocked to hear about the tragedy. He expressed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. In his tweet, Mr. Modi said the tragedy is heart-wrenching. He prayed for quick recovery for those injured.

Mr. Modi announced 2 lakh rupees each compensation for the family of those killed and 50,000 for the injured. He also directed officials to provide immediate assistance.

The Railways have issued helpline numbers for information on the accident. These are 0183-2223171 and 0183-2564485. Telephone numbers at Manawala station are: 0183-2440024, 0183-2402927; and at Ferozpur: 01632-1072.

An official spokesman said, a state mourning has been declared and all offices and educational institutions will remain closed in Punjab today.

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