Ten coaches and the engine of the Matsyagandha Express jumped the rails on the western Konkan coast on Wednesday after the engine crashed into large boulders that had rolled down from the mountainside due to heavy monsoon rains lashing the area.

   

Officials said rescue workers struggled to remove bodies from three coaches that hung from the bridge after the accident that happened in pouring rain about 160 km south of Mumbai.

   

"It was a difficult task to remove the bodies. Some were hanging precariously out of the coach. But we managed to get them out," said Vaishali Patange, a senior railway official.

 

Pelting rain

   

The train was on a dangerous
stretch when the crash occurred

Medical and rescue teams rushed the injured in pelting rain to a hospital near the crash site while some others were moved to Mumbai where anxious family members crowded a railway station to scan the list of passengers.

 

"It was God who saved us. We were supposed to travel in the same coach that fell off the tracks but it was too crowded so we went behind," said a dazed Elvis Rebello.

   

"The train jerked twice and stopped suddenly. When we got out, we saw the coaches were hanging from the bridge," Rebello, who was travelling with his sister, told a television channel.

 

Punishment

   

"When we got out, we saw the coaches were hanging from the bridge"

Elvis Rebello,
passenger

Railway engineers tried to remove the damaged coaches from the tracks to make way for other trains, which were either diverted or cancelled.

   

"This is a dangerous stretch. Regular patrolling has to be done. Railway officials found guilty of neglecting their duty will be severely punished," Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav told reporters.

   

Officials said the train was headed for Mumbai from the southern coastal city of Mangalore.

   

India has one of the world's largest railway networks but it has a poor safety record. Around 14,000 trains run daily carrying more than 13 million passengers, but accidents total around 300 a year.