At least 24 people have been killed in India after two passenger trains in Madhya Pradesh have derailed minutes apart on a flooded bridge, officials say.
The trains were passing each other near the town of Harda when a flash flood triggered by heavy rain struck the bridge, reports said.
The tracks collapsed and some of the carriages were submerged.
According to officials, at least 25 people have been injured and another 300 rescued.
The Kamayani Express travelling from Varanasi to Mumbai derailed first, while the Janata Express travelling in the opposite direction derailed shortly after.
The Press Trust of India reported that it was not clear how many passengers were on the trains.
The bridge crosses the Machak river, about 590 miles from India’s capital, Delhi.
Rescuers worked through the night, mostly in darkness, trying to free those trapped. Divers used gas-powered cutters to access the submerged carriages, officials added.
India has been badly hit by heavy monsoon rains and the tail-end of Cyclone Komen in recent days. More than 100 people have died in flooding, landslides and building collapses.
All the coaches had been cleared and bodies of the victims recovered, Madhya Pradesh railway police chief MS Gupta told AFP news agency.
However, MS Gupta said the death toll could rise slightly. It was not clear if any passengers remained unaccounted for.
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted that he had ordered an inquiry and that he would make a full statement to the Indian parliament later on Wednesday.
PM Narendra Modi has also expressed concern, and offered condolences to the relatives of those who died.
Safety standards on India’s massive state-run railway network, which operates 12,000 passenger trains and carries some 23 million passengers every day, has been an ongoing concern amid a spate of accidents.
Correspondents say the state-run railway network has a patchy safety record – there has been little investment in upgrading decaying tracks and signals, and India lags behind on anti-collision technologies.
Decades of neglect, low investment and subsidized fares have left the network in a shambles, correspondents say.
Navratri festival stampede death toll in Madhya Pradesh, India, has risen to 109, local officials have said.
Many were crushed after panic broke out on a bridge near Ratangarh temple. Others drowned when they jumped from the bridge into river water below.
Meanwhile, funeral pyres have been burning throughout the night with many of the victims already cremated.
Hundreds of thousands had gathered for the festival of Navratri (nine nights in Sanskrit).
Officials said the stampede may have been sparked by a rumor that the bridge was about to collapse.
Navratri festival stampede death toll in Madhya Pradesh has risen to 109
“The latest information we have from the ground is that 109 people killed and 133 were injured,” news agency AFP quoted Anand Mishra, an officer in the local police control room in Datia district, as saying on Monday morning.
“We recovered the bodies from the river and from where they were crushed to death,” he added.
The accident happened at about 09:00 on Sunday. The victims were mostly women and children, officials said.
The narrow bridge is about 500 m long and had only recently been rebuilt following another stampede in 2007.
Local official Sanket Bhondve said the immediate priority was to provide relief to the injured.
Hindu festivals in India are notorious for deadly stampedes.
In the past year, dozens have died in three similar tragedies.
Indian police in Madhya Pradesh state say they have arrested six people in connection with the gang rape of a Swiss tourist.
The accused will be presented before a magistrate on Monday, a senior police official told Reuters news agency.
The woman was attacked as she camped with her husband in woodland near a village in Datia district on Friday.
The arrests come as cross-party talks on harsher punishments and tougher laws for rape begin in the capital, Delhi.
The latest attack comes three months after the gang rape of a 23-year-old female student on a bus in Delhi.
The rape and the student’s later death in hospital triggered widespread protests against the treatment of women in India and sparked demands for tougher laws.
In Friday’s incident, a group of men overpowered the Swiss woman’s husband before gang-raping her. The couple were also robbed of their valuables, including a laptop, which police say have been recovered.
Police spokesman Dilip Arya said the six men were aged 20-25 and belonged to a local tribe.
Twenty more people were being questioned in connection with the case, said local police official SM Afzal.
Madhya Pradesh police have arrested six people in connection with the gang rape of a Swiss tourist
The woman and her husband have left Madhya Pradesh and have reached the Swiss embassy in Delhi, reports say.“A decision regarding the next steps… in the interest of the two concerned Swiss citizens will be made with them in due course,” a spokesman for the Swiss ministry for foreign affairs said in a statement quoted by Reuters news agency.
On Sunday, a senior police official denied media reports that the suspects had confessed to their involvement in the crime.
The victim, who is reported to be 39 years old, and her husband had been cycling from Orchha to Agra, to see the Taj Mahal, a distance of about 155 miles, when they decided to camp for the night in a forested area.
One report cited the victim’s husband as saying that the group of men had approached them at about 21:30. They then began beating him with wooden sticks before tying him up and assaulting his wife in front of him, he is reported to have said.
The assailants stole the couple’s valuables, including 10,000 rupees ($185) and a laptop computer, before fleeing into the woods.
India’s political parties are also taking part in previously scheduled meetings to discuss harsher punishment for rapists, including the death penalty. They will also consider lowering the age of consent for sex to 16.
Last month, the government introduced new rape laws in an ordinance.
A bill or bills with these laws must be tabled during the current session of parliament. If the bill is not passed, the ordinance will lapse.
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