INTRODUCTION: The weekend train disaster in northern India looks set to be the world's worst rail accident, even though the final death toll is still far from clear.
GV Bridge over Bagmati river with train carriage half out of water
GV Carriage in water with people on river bank above it (2 shots)
GV Workers with ropes trying to lift up carriage as others watch (2 shots)
GV ZOOM IN River with body floating and bodies on bank (3 shots)
SV Policeman keeping record
GV People collecting bodies from river
GV Frogman diving from boat (2 shots)
GV Carriage in water PAN ACROSS river
GV PAN Locomotive with heavily-laden carriages passing by
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The weekend train disaster in northern India looks set to be the world's worst rail accident, even though the final death toll is still far from clear. The accident occurred on Saturday (6 June) when the train plunged off a bridge into the Bagmati River in Bihar State. Because of difficult salvage conditions only 125 bodies had been recovered by Tuesday (9 June). But a district magistrate said at the scene that at least 800 people must have died. Other sources have already predicted a final death toll as high as 3,000. The previous worst railway disaster on record was the derailment of a First World War troop train in France in 1917 when 543 people died.
SYNOPSIS: First reports of the accident said the train was swept from the bridge by a cyclone, hurling seven coaches into the deep waters of the river. but latest reports suggest the rear coaches may have jumped the line because the engine driver braked sharply to avoid hitting cattle on the track.
Only part of one each was visible after the accident. Efforts to winch it and a second coach out of the river were hampered by breaking cables and strong currents. By Tuesday (9 June) bodies still floated in the river and five coaches remained unlocated in the deep waters.
As police keep records, bodies of the victims are cremated on the river banks. Only some 80 people survived the accident and most of them were seriously injured. Many of the other passengers are thought to have been swept far downstream.
Local rescue workers have been reinforced by navy frogmen. The turbulence of the river has made their work very difficult and more divers are being flown in to help.
The disaster has caused ripples in political circles. Opposition politicians are calling for the resignation of railway minster Kodar Pandey, saying the government must be held partly responsible.
It is thought the train was vastly overcrowded -- just like this one travelling on a nearby track. Witnesses say more than 2,500 passengers were packed on the crash-train, with hundreds of people squatting on the roof. At least four large marriage parties were aboard, crowding the duckboards and all available space. Under such conditions, it will clearly take time to determine the real cost of Saturday's catastrophe.