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India train accident latest: At least 59 dead after being hit while watching effigy burn in Amritsar

Shehab Khan

At least 59 people have been killed after being run over by a train in northern India while watching an effigy burn, officials say.

The effigy was being burned near railway tracks in Amritsar, Punjab, in honour of the major Hindu festival of Dussehra, which is celebrated every autumn.

It is thought 700 people were present at the celebration and an eyewitness said that the crowd could not hear the train coming.

“The people were sitting on and near the tracks on the outskirts of Amritsar watching the burning of effigies as part of the Dusshera festival when a commuter train ran over them,” a police officer said.

Pratap Singh Bajwa, a Congress party leader, said that the train did not stop after the accident.

Many others have been injured and have been rushed to nearby hospitals.

Amarinder Singh, Punjab chief minister, said he was rushing to the state capital Amritsar to supervise relief and rescue operations.

“District authorities have been mobilised on war footing,” he tweeted.

Following the accident, a large number of villagers rushed to the site and condemned railroad authorities for not taking precautions in view of the festival.

While accidents are relatively common on India’s sprawling rail network, this incident was among India’s deadliest in recent years.

In 2016, 146 people were killed when a train slid off tracks in eastern India.

The festival of Dussehra is celebrated annually and celebrates the triump of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana.

During the celebrations an effigy of Ravana is set alight.