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At least 50 people killed and hundreds injured in train crash in eastern India

At least 50 people have been killed and 350 injured after two passenger trains collided in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.

The Coromandel Express, which runs from Kolkata to Chennai, collided with another passenger train, the Howrah Superfast Express, railway officials said.

The Howrah Superfast Express derailed and became entangled with the Coromandel Express, South Eastern Railway authorities said in a statement. Media reports had earlier said the crash was between the Coromandel Express and a goods train.

There was no official confirmation on the number of dead in the disaster, which took place in Balasore district. Media reports said at least 50 people had died.

So far more than 350 injured passengers had been admitted to various hospitals, Odisha’s chief secretary Pradeep Jena told reporters.

Images from the scene showed rescuers climbing up the mangled wreck of one of the trains to find survivors.

The Odisha chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, said authorities’ priority was “removing the living to the hospitals, that’s our first concern, to look after the living”.

Rescue operations were underway at the site and “all possible assistance” is being given to those affected, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, said in a tweet. Rescue teams have been mobilised from Odisha’s Bhubaneswar and Kolkata in West Bengal, the federal minister for railways, Ashwini Vaishnaw, added.

The National Disaster Response Force, state government teams and the air force had also mobilised to respond to the incident, he said.

Despite government efforts to improve safety, several hundred accidents occur every year on India’s railways, which with 40,000 miles (64,000km) of track is the world’s largest network under one management.

Two trains collided near Delhi in August 1995, killing 358 people in the worst train accident in India’s history.

Most train accidents are blamed on human error or outdated signalling equipment. More than 12 million people travel on 14,000 trains a day across India.

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