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Train Accident in India Kills at Least 21 People

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In India, two passenger trains have collided, killing at least 21 people and injuring more than 20 others. India's massive rail network ferries millions of passengers across the country, every day.

The accident occurred early Wednesday when a passenger train rammed into another train which was waiting at a red signal near the northern city, Agra.

Both the trains were in the final leg of their journey at the time of the collision. They were heading to the capital, New Delhi, which is about 200 kilometers north of the accident site.

Passengers say they were sleeping when they felt a massive jolt.

One eyewitness told television crews that people on the upper berths of the train came tumbling down, with the impact of the collision.

Soldiers assisted in the efforts to free passengers from the mangled coaches.

A northern railway spokesman, R.D. Vajpayee, told VOA, that the rear coach of the stationary train bore the brunt of the collision's impact.

"We had to rescue, take out the passengers which were trapped in the last coach," said Vajpayee. "And, gas cutters were used, and we had called the army also. They had assisted us and, within a few hours, we had completed with rescue operations."

Railway officials say they are not certain what caused the accident, but one of the trains may have overlooked a signal to stop. An inquiry has been ordered.

Trains are the most popular mode of long-distance travel in India. India operates one of the most extensive and busiest rail networks in the world - 9,000 passenger trains run every day, carrying more than 18-million people, daily, across the vast country.

There are about 300 Indian rail accidents every year, prompting calls for improving safety standards on the rail network. Earlier this month, a train derailed, killing one person. In February, a train accident in eastern India claimed 16 lives.