NEW DELHI — Nearly 300 people were killed and hundreds more were injured after two trains derailed Friday in India, officials said.
Update 2:24 p.m. EDT June 3: At least 288 people have been killed and over 700 others are injured according to a preliminary government report obtained by The New York Times.
Officials are investigating the cause of the crash but are looking into signal failure as a possible cause, the Times reported.
Update 8:42 a.m. EDT June 3: Overnight, at least 280 bodies were recovered, Sudhanshu Sarangi, director of Odisha state’s fire and emergency department, told The Associated Press.
Sarangi told the AP that the cause of the crash remains under investigation as of Saturday morning. The New York Times reported that at least 17 cars of two passenger trains derailed in the crash. Both trains had at least 2,200 people aboard, railway officials say.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew to the site of the derailment, the AP reported. He was there for about 30 minutes examining the scene and afterward when to the Odisha state capital to meet with the injured.
The accident happened about 137 miles southwest of Kolkata, India, according to The Associated Press.
A railroad ministry spokesperson, Amitabh Sharma, said that 10 to 12 cars of one train have derailed and debris fell onto another track in the area. Some of that debris hit another train traveling in the opposite direction, causing three cars of that train to derail, the AP reported.
A third train with freight is believed to be involved as well but railroad authorities have not been able to confirm it, according to The Press Trust per the AP.
Vaishnaw said on Twitter that National Disaster Response Force had been mobilized and dozens of other trains going through the area have been canceled, the Times reported.
Around 500 police officers and rescue workers are in the area, Jena said, according to the AP. There are about 75 ambulances and buses also in the area.
The train that derailed was part of the Coromandel Express, the AP reported. It was traveling from Howrah, which is in West Bengal, to the state of Chennai, which is the capital of the southern Tamil Nadu state.
The last time India had a derailment was near the city of Kanpur in 2016, the Times reported. Over 140 people died.
Information about what caused the derailment has not yet been released.