train derailed
45 dead after Patna-Indore express derails near Kanpur Pictured: A derailed train in India [Representational Image]Reuters

At least 97 people have died and over 150 injured after 14 coaches of the Patna-Indore Express train derailed in Pukhrayan near Kanpur at 3 am on Sunday. The death toll is expected to rise.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has instructed the director general of police to monitor the situation personally. Rescue and relief operations are currently underway.

Here's a list of the five worst rail disasters in India:

1. Bihar Rail Disaster — June 6, 1981

The deadliest-ever rail accident took place between Mansi and Saharsa in Bihar when a train carrying nearly 1,000 people derailed while on a bridge and plunged into the Bagmati River claiming the lives of over 600 people. Around 250 bodies were traced, while most were never found.

Several causes of the accident did the rounds. Some said it was caused due to a cyclone while others said it was due to flash floods. The third much talked about reason was that the driver of the train hit the brakes hard upon seeing a cow crossing the tracks. Since it was raining heavily due to which the tracks were slick, hitting the brakes suddenly caused the coaches to slid on the wet rails and plunge into the river.

2. Firozabad rail disaster — August 20, 1995

At least 358 people were killed after Delhi-bound Purushottam Express rammed into a stationary Kalindi Express near Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh.

The Kalindi Express was stationary on the tracks due to a malfunction in the brakes after it hit a cow. Purushottam Express was permitted to run on the same track at the same time due to which the disaster happened.

3. Gaisal train disaster — August 2, 1999

At least 290 people died after two trains carrying over 2,500 people collided at Gaisal station located about 310 miles from Guwahati in Assam. The trains crashed at such a high speed that they exploded claiming the lives of so many people.

The accident took place between the Avadh Assam Express from New Delhi and the Brahmaputra Mail from Dibrugarh around 1:30 am. The former was stationary at Gaisal station while the latter was running at very high speed carrying soldiers and security police heading for the border regions. The Brahmaputra Mail was transferred to the same track due to a signalling error that caused the accident.

4. Khanna rail disaster — November 26, 1998

The Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express travelling to Kolkata collided with the six derailed coaches of the Frontier Golden Temple Mail travelling to Amritsar killing at least 212 people near Khanna on the Khanna-Ludhiana section of India's Northern Railway in Punjab.

Both trains were estimated to be carrying  2,500 passengers. The first derailment took place due to a broken rail after which the Jammu Tawi-Sealdah Express came and rammed into the derailed coaches. 

5. Gyaneshwari Express train derailment — May 28, 2010

Around 170 people were killed in a suspected attack by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) on the Howrah Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Gyaneshwari Super Deluxe Express that was travelling to Mumbai.

The train derailed due to an explosion or a sabotage, that happened between Khemashuli and Sardiha in West Midnapore district at 1:30 am, following which it hit a goods train.