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Locals Say 2 Trains Passed Slowly Minutes Before 'Killer Express' Mowed Down Dussehra Crowd

Eyewitnesses say that before the train going to Amritsar from Jalandhar mowed down the revellers, two trains passed through the tracks, but slowed down their speed.

Updated:October 20, 2018, 5:01 PM IST
Locals Say 2 Trains Passed Slowly Minutes Before 'Killer Express' Mowed Down Dussehra Crowd
A crowd gathers at the site of Friday's train accident in Amritsar. (AP)
New Delhi/Amritsar: The Railways was not intimated about a Dussehra event along the tracks that led to the deaths of at least 58 people in Amritsar, Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani said in a statement.

He said that the accident occurred at a stretch between two stations — Amritsar and Manawala, and not at a level crossing. "At midsections, trains run at their assigned speed and people are not expected to be on the tracks. At midsections, there is no railway staff posted. We have staff at level crossings whose job is to regulate traffic," he said, explaining why the railways was not alerted about the congregation by its staff.

He said that the gateman was 400 metres away at a level crossing. He also said that if the driver had applied emergency brakes, there could have been a bigger tragedy. He said that the train was running at its assigned speed and initial reports suggest that the driver applied brakes and the train slowed down.

Locals, however, say the Ravana Dehan event has been taking aplce in the vacant plot at Joda Phatak for more than 20 years.

Jaswant, a 50-year-old local, told PTI that the Ravana effigy is burnt at this plot, while the Ramlila event was organised at a good distance from the railway tracks. Jawant claimed that people did not hear horn of the train coming from Jalandhar as there were noise due to bursting of firecrackers.

Before the train going to Amritsar from Jalandhar that mowed down the revellers, two trains passed through the tracks, but they slowed down their speed, he claimed.

Locals said that the train tragedy took place around 7:10 pm when railway tracks were packed with people who were watching the burning of Ravana effigy.

"Ravana effigy is being burnt at this vacant plot for over 20 years, but no such incident has happened earlier," Balwikdar, another resident, said.

At least 58 people were killed and after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching the burning of a Ravana effigy was run over by a train near here, officials said.

The train was coming from Jalandhar when the accident occurred at Joda Phatak near Amritsar, where at least 300 people were watching 'Ravana dahan' at a ground adjacent to the tracks.

(With PTI inputs)

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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