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Regional & National

Rescue work ends after Indian train wreck kills 68

July 11th, 2011 9:20 am by RAJESH KUMAR SINGH

FATEHPUR, India (AP) — Railway workers Monday began clearing the mangled wreckage of a derailed passenger train in northern India after ending a rescue operation that found 68 bodies.

Throughout the day, anxious relatives searching for missing family members had thronged to the site of Sunday's crash as bodies wrapped in white shrouds lay in rows on the ground next to the train.

By late Monday afternoon, rescue teams had finished searching the twisted coaches for victims and survivors and the repair work had begun amid pouring rain.

At least 239 passengers were injured when the Kalka Mail jumped the tracks near Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh state, Brij Lal, a senior state police official said.

The main government-run hospital in Fatehpur was overrun by grieving relatives searching for their kin among the injured and the dead.

"I was listening to music on the upper berth, when there was a loud bang followed by a thud. I was flung from my seat and hit my head against the side of the coach," passenger Subajit Ghosh, 20, said at a hospital, his head swathed in bandages.

Lal said the dead included two Swedish nationals. Another Swedish passenger was injured.

Linn Duvhammar, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Foreign Ministry, said that a Swedish man in his 20s had been taken to a hospital but she was unable to confirm any Swedes died.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the crash, H.C. Joshi, a senior railway official, said. Newspapers reported the driver had slammed on the emergency brakes because cattle were on the tracks in front of the speeding train.

Volunteers and army soldiers worked through the night to pull the injured from the train's 12 shattered coaches. Officials said the train was carrying about 1,000 passengers, but the exact number was not known.

By Monday evening, 46 bodies had been identified and 19 of those had been handed over to family members, Lal said, adding that 19 bodies were yet to be identified.

The train was headed to Kalka, in the foothills of the Himalayas, from Howrah, a station near Kolkata in eastern India.

Train services across northern India have been disrupted. At least 62 trains were diverted to other routes and many others have been canceled, said S. Mathur, a railway official.

India's railroad network is one of the largest in the world and carries about 14 million passengers each day. Accidents are common, with most blamed on poor maintenance and human error.

Police say a militant group was suspected of triggering a bomb that derailed another train Sunday hundreds of miles (kilometers) to the northeast.

More than 50 passengers were injured, four critically, when that train derailed in Rangiya 31 miles (50 kilometers) west of Assam's capital Gauhati, police said.

The Adivasi Peoples' Army was suspected of triggering the bomb in the remote state of Assam, G. P. Singh, inspector-general of police, said. No militant group has claimed responsibility.

More than 30 groups in the northeast have been fighting for decades for independence or greater autonomy in the region, about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) east of New Delhi.

The Adivasi Peoples' Army is an offshoot of the United Liberation Front of Asom, or ULFA, which is fighting for an independent state for ethnic Assamese. ULFA is the largest militant group in the region.

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Associated Press writers Biswajeet Banerjee in Lucknow and Wasbir Hussain in Gauhati contributed to this report.

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