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Burning Ravana effigy, firecrackers, festive euphoria made people oblivious to approaching train

Press Trust of India  |  Amritsar 

A burning effigy of Ravana, bursting of firecrackers and festive euphoria made Dussehra revellers oblivious to the train approaching them, and, in a matter of seconds, bodies were left strewn on railway tracks, eyewitnesses of the tragic accident in Amritsar recounted Saturday.

At least 59 people were killed Friday evening after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching the burning of the Ravana effigy was run over by a train near Joda Phatak here.

"I was watching the burning of effigy of Ravana and suddenly I heard massive sound. After a few seconds, bodies of women, children and men were lying on the railway tracks. The moment was very devastating," Jaspreet, an eyewitness, told PTI.

Another eyewitness, Gurpreet, said: "We all were busy watching the Dussehra celebrations. Huge voice of firecrackers drowned the sound of the arriving train and we could not understand for a few seconds what had happened."

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.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Saturday ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident after visiting the injured and the kin of those killed in the tragedy.

Suraj Prakash, another eyewitness, said a few minutes before the Jalandhar-Amritsar train mowed down the revellers, another train going to Howrah from Amritsar passed through the area on another track, but it did not hurt anyone.

"How can it be possible that a train which passed through the area a few moments back, did not cause any casualty, but another train killed several innocent people.

"It was the mistake of train driver (Jalandhar-Amritsar train). After the train passed, screams of people could be heard from everywhere," he said.

Sukhpal, who was at the site, said there was no lighting around the tracks which made matters worse.

Another local, Jasvinder, alleged that the place where the Dussehra celebrations were held was not enough to accommodate so many people and there was no barricading, which could have made it difficult for people to reach the railway tracks.

Most people who were mowed down by the train were migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

A senior official in the district administration said most migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar work in an industrial area at a stone's throw away from the accident site and live nearby.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, October 20 2018. 19:50 IST