Seven killed in train accident in India's Bihar state

Several others injured when the Delhi-bound train derailed in the early hours of Sunday.

    Seven killed in train accident in India's Bihar state
    Most of the travellers were asleep when the train derailed at around 4am local time [The Associated Press]

    At least seven passengers have been killed and several others injured when a New Delhi-bound train derailed in India's eastern state of Bihar.

    Eleven coaches of the Seemanchal Express derailed near Sahadai Buzurg railway station, about 50km from the state capital Patna, early on Sunday morning.

    Most of the travellers were asleep when the train, travelling at 55 kilometres per hour, derailed at around 4am local time (22:30GMT on Saturday).

    "I was sleeping and suddenly there was a big bang and I found myself under a pile of bags," passenger Mahesh Kumar told AFP news agency.

    According to a statement released by Indian Railways, a "rail fracture" caused the accident.

    Local media reported that cash compensation of 500,000 rupees (almost $7,000) would be paid to the relatives of those killed, local media reported.

    Minister of Railways of India Piyush Goyal recently claimed to have improved rail safety after a series of deadly accidents in the country.

    "Over the last four and a half years, we have inculcated a new culture of implementing transformative reforms [...] As a result, the past year has emerged as a year of ‘many firsts' for Indian Railways," Goyal told local media last year.

    India's state railways, largely built during colonial rule, is the main form of long-distance transportation for its 23 million passengers.

    The government has pledged $137bn over five years to modernise the crumbling network.

    But decades of underinvestment in rail safety infrastructure have led to numerous disasters.

    A 2012 government report said 15,000 people are killed in rail-related accidents every year. 

    In November 2016, the Patna-Indore express derailed in Uttar Pradesh state, killing 139 people.

    Last April, 13 children were killed when a train hit a school bus in the same state.

    At least 59 people were killed in October 2018 when a commuter train travelling at a high speed travelled through a crowd of people on the rail tracks in northern India while they were attending a religious festival.

    It was the deadliest accident of the year, bringing the number of victims of train accidents to 72 in 2018.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies