India today refused to rule out sabotage in a train crash that killed more than 60 people and injured dozens more.
The crash happened when a fast-moving express slammed into another train as it left the platform at Sainthia, about 125 miles north of Calcutta.
Three carriages of of the second train were destroyed, leaving a tangle of twisted metal. Two were reserved for passengers on the cheapest tickets and are usually packed to capacity.
The impact was so great the roof of one carriage was hurled onto an overpass above the tracks.
It was the second major train crash in the state of West Bengal in the past two months. On May 28 a passenger train derailed and was hit by an cargo train in a crash that killed 145 people. Authorities blamed sabotage by Maoist rebels.
Accidents are common on India’s sprawling rail network, one of the world’s largest, with most blamed on poor maintenance and human error. An investigation into the cause was started.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, who rushed to the site today, said the crash could have been another case of sabotage.
Local residents climbing through the debris searching for survivors were later joined by rescue workers using heavy equipment to cut through the metal.
“I had fallen asleep and woke up when I felt an enormous jolt and then suddenly I felt my coach turning over,” said one survivor.
“Three or four passengers fell on top of me and my right leg broke. I lay there crushed under dead bodies for a long time. At least three people sitting next to me in the coach died.”
“I was trapped there in horrible pain until rescue workers with gas cutters cut into the coach and pulled me out.” He was pulled out around nearly five hours after the crash.
A passenger on the second train, Mohammed Iris, 52, managed to crawl out of his coach an hour after it overturned.
“I was awake when the accident happened. Our train had been given the signal to move but it had barely started moving when I felt an enormous jolt and then I felt the coach turning over.”
“Some eight-10 people fell on top of me and my left thumb was almost severed from my hand.”
When he finally managed to crawl out, local residents pulled him to safety.
“When I crawled out it was only local people who helped me. They risked their lives to pull me out of the train.”
Both men, along with most other crash survivors, were being treated in hospital.
Rescuers recovered 61 bodies from the crash site and at least 125 other people were injured.
Rescue teams arrived about three hours after the accident, a local resident said. Before that locals scrambled to help survivors out of the trains and to pull out bodies.
“For many hours it was just the local residents helping and it was very difficult to help without any equipment,” one said.