A passenger who survived told journalists that the train stopped a couple of moments after 3 a.m. for unexplained reasons. "It then suddenly picked up speed," the man said. "And then I got an eerie feeling that the train was rolling down a valley.
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More than 100 people were killed and around 150 injured when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed near the city of Kanpur before dawn on Sunday, officials said. The horrific disaster took place when the Patna-bound train's coaches ran off the rails just after 3 a.m. near Pukhrayan station, about 60 km from Kanpur city, railway and police officials said.
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Uttar Pradesh Inspector General of Police Prabhakar Chowdhary told IANS that the number of dead had crossed the 100 mark and that the toll could rise further considerably. The passengers were asleep when the disaster struck, taking everyone unawares. The first to derail were the S1 and S2 coaches, which suffered the maximum damage.
Most of the dead were crushed to death, an official of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) told IANS. Some of the injured were in critical condition. NDRF spokesperson Krishna Kumar said: "Most bodies which have been taken out are beyond recognition as they are badly crushed."
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"By the time I realized what had happened, some 20-25 people in my coach had been killed. There was a six-year-old girl who was literally cut into two pieces," said the terrified man. It was the worst train accident in the country after the May 2010 disaster in West Bengal involving Gyaneshwari Express that killed some 170 people.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a host of VIPs mourned the deaths. Modi announced ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of those killed and Rs. 50,000 for the seriously injured. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and the Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, where the train originated, also announced financial compensation to the dead and the injured.