At least 30 people have been killed after two passenger trains travelling in opposite directions derailed within minutes of each other, sending carriages tumbling into a river in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The Kamayani Express derailed around midnight local time on Tuesday near the Kudawa railway station, about 20km from the town of Harda.

A second train, the Janata Express, travelling in the opposite direction from Patna to Mumbai, also derailed on the same bridge minutes later.

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Al Jazeera's Nidhi Dutt, reporting from New Delhi, said there were reports that at least 300 people had been rescued but witnesses were giving accounts "that many people may have been washed away".

Al Jazeera's Faiz Jamil said that seven carriages from the first train and three from the second were submerged in the Machak River following the derailments.

"On Indian trains, they have classes so there could be a dozen or up to 100 people travelling per train car," he said.

Anil Saxena, a spokesperson for Indian Railways, said the bridge was partially submerged as the water level of the river was high due to heavy monsoon rain over the past two weeks.

Teams of rescuers had trouble reaching the area overnight, due to the weather and the remote location of the accident.

A train carrying around 100 doctors and rescuers was dispatched to the location as other medics were sent by road. 

Passengers on one of the trains have told local media that water was overflowing onto the tracks when it attempted its crossing.


Source: Al Jazeera