Death toll rises to 61 in India train disaster

Narendra Modi Prime Minister of India

Narendra Modi Prime Minister of India

"Some are saying 50, some are saying 60", Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh said of the number killed.

Police say the noise from the fireworks may have kept people from hearing the train's approach.

Railway officials said no permission was sought from them either and ruled out any inquiry by the department into what they said was the worst accident due to "trespass" on railway tracks.

Although Dussehra celebrations were not held on this plot last year, it has been used to celebrate Dussehra for nearly 10 years, said Jeet Singh Bhatia, a corporator whose ward is located next to the ground.

The police have not questioned Saurabh Madan, who has now gone underground.

Local residents started the protest Saturday, raising slogans against the state government and demanding action against the train driver.

Railway minister Piyush Goyal returned early from a trip to the United States to go to Amritsar on Saturday. Would it have been logically possible for us to pelt stones at the train when we were in such a state of shock, when there were so many people lying dead and injured around us?

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Witnesses also said that Friday's ceremony was delayed by a few hours because the chief guest was running late, which meant the event ultimately coincided with the train's scheduled arrival. "I think if precautions had been taken, the accident could have been averted", he said, adding wherever such events are held, the district administration gives the permission. While speaking to the media outside the Civil Hospital, as reported by ANI, Sidhu said that the matter should not be politicised and that it was an accident and was not intentional on anyone's part. "Why was such function was allowed to take place near railway tracks?" "As I had the safety of my passengers in mind, I continued towards Amritsar and informed the officials concerned about the accident", he said in the statement.

The disaster, near Amritsar in the north of the country on Friday, led to new demands for safety reforms to India's accident-plagued railway system, which records thousands of deaths each year. "We do not know without an inquiry", Mr. Singhvi said.

The railways has maintained that it was not at fault because it had no information about the Dussehra event.

"My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly".

In a tweet, President Kovind said, Indian Railways and local authorities are taking steps to help the affected people.

It said this was being done despite the fact that the victims' families were ready to present "irrefutable evidence" against a Congress councilor and Navjot Kaur Sidhu for abetting the tragedy.

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